Phnom Penh — A Cambodian prince has ended a hunger strike over the disputed July election after military police expelled him from a pagoda where he was holding the protest, according to an AFP report.
Prince Sisowath Thomico is a cousin of King Norodom Sihamoni and a senior member of the opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), which has held protests in the capital over the official results of the disputed July vote.
In the latest development on the Cambodia election protest news, he said 400 police in riot gear forced him to end his protest at the Phnom Penh pagoda late Friday, adding that the police were not violent.
“There were about 20 people and eight monks with me… but the authorities were concerned that the hunger strike would become bigger, so they cracked down on it,” the prince told AFP. “I have ended it,” he said.
Official results of the election gave Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party 68 seats in parliament compared to 55 seats for the opposition.
The CNRP alleges widespread voter fraud and has threatened to boycott the opening of parliament.
Military police spokesman Kheng Tito said authorities ended the prince’s hunger strike because the protest had turned into an illegal rally, adding that they feared the protests could turn violent ahead of Monday’s opening of parliament.
He also said police had been deployed outside the royal palace on Saturday as dozens of CNRP protesters gathered peacefully, noting that the move was “to ban any rally from the public” in the days leading up to the opening of parliament.
Last Sunday violent clashes occurred between protesters and police when an opposition rally drew some 20,000 demonstrators demanding an investigation into the alleged election fraud. Image/AFP/Tang Chhin Sothy