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Cambodian opposition supporters protest in capital to call for reelection

PHNOM PENH, Dec. 15 (Xinhua) -- An estimated 10,000 supporters of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) held a non- violent protest at the capital's Freedom Park on Sunday, urging the government to hold an early reelection following allegations of serious irregularities in the July polls.

Many protesters tied ribbons around their heads carrying slogans such as "My vote, my life", "Long live democracy!", and " No justice, no peace."

Addressing to the rally, CNRP leader Sam Rainsy said the protest was to push the government led by Prime Minister Hun Sen for a reelection within three months.

"If Prime Minister Hun Sen is brave enough and thinks that he has more popularity, he should allow a reelection, or step down," he said.

He said from now on the party would hold a protest every day at the Freedom Park to demand a snap election.

"If we gather at the Freedom Park to demand the reelection, but the government still ignores the demand, we will march on streets to demand Hun Sen to step down," he said.

Sam Rainsy hailed Thai caretaker Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra for dissolving the lower house of parliament and calling for general elections in February.

CNRP Vice President Kem Sokha called on people throughout the country to come to Phnom Penh for non-violent daily protest.

After their speeches, the two leaders led thousands of protesters to march on streets in the capital.

National Military Police spokesman Kheng Tito said that security forces have been deployed along the street to ensure security and public order in the city.

"It is their rights to hold a peaceful protest, but if there is any violence happening, we have to take action to ensure public security," he told Xinhua.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has been on a week-long visit to Japan since Thursday.

Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sar Kheng on Tuesday rejected the opposition's call for a reelection.

"I don't know what to do if they continue to reject the July election results," he told reporters. "It is impossible to hold a snap election in Cambodia because there is no reason and to hold a reelection will take at least one or two years."

He said the ruling Cambodian People's Party's door remained open for further negotiations with the CNRP.

Political row between Hun Sen's ruling party and longtime opposition leader Sam Rainsy's party has persisted since the July election results showed that the ruling party won a majority of vote with 68 parliamentary seats and the opposition earned the remaining 55 seats.

The opposition refused to accept the outcome and boycotted parliament since then in order to call for an independent probe into the alleged irregularities during the poll, but the ruling party rejected the call, saying it was against the nation's constitution.

One of the protests in mid-September turned violent as protesters threw stones at police and the police retaliated with tear gas, smoke bombs, and water cannons. As a result, a protester was shot dead and several got wounded.

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