Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 25 called on the authorities of provinces and cities to lift their bans on public rallies in order to ensure citizens’ rights to freedom and equality.

Speaking at the inauguration ceremony of a coal-fuelled power plant in the port city of Sihanouk, the PM said there are currently two kinds of protest movements, the ones staged by opposition supporters and the others held by government advocates.

He also appealed to the authorities to protect citizens from both sides during their rallies and protests.

The Cambodian government banned all forms of rallies and protests in the capital in January after a deadly crackdown against striking workers which left at least five dead and some 40 injured.

In another development, a meeting between the ruling Cambodia People’s Party (CPP) and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) scheduled for February 27 has been cancelled.

CNRP spokesperson Yim Sovann said on February 25 that the CPP called for the delay of the meeting because it is very busy, adding that the two parties will set a new date soon, as early as next week.

On February 18, the two parties’ working groups agreed to create a joint committee for electoral reforms. However, its role, tasks and working time are yet to be identified.

A political row between the CPP and CNRP has persisted since July 2013 when the election results showed that the CPP won 68 parliamentary seats against the 55 seats taken by the CNRP.

Claiming serious irregularities during the poll, the CNRP refused to accept the results and demanded the establishment of an independent committee to investigate the election outcome. It has boycotted parliament and held many protests demanding for a re-election, all rejected by the CPP.-VNA