The Cambodian government plans to hold a massive prayer ceremony at Angkor Wat in early December to highlight the country’s continuing peace, independence and political stability, The Phnom Penh Post Online reported on Thursday
In announcing the ceremony on Wednesday, Prime Minister Hun Sen: “This shows that Cambodia is not in anarchy or a country at war. It is a country with peace, independence and political stability, and everything is running normally.”
But observers said that the spectacle was designed to disguise the deterioration of Cambodia’s political situation.
The event will take place at the famed temple site on December 2-3 and will involve giving alms to between 5,000 and 7,000 monks with the general public invited to witness the event.
A similar announcement was made by the Apsara Authority which runs the temple complex, with Deputy Prime Minister Men Sam An and Culture Minister Phoeung Sakona observing the preparations.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said the event had nothing to do with the dissolution of the opposition CNRP by the Supreme Court, calling it an annual occurrence. But Siem Reap Deputy Governor Sang Riha said such ceremony was only held on special occasion.
Using the Angkor Wat as the stage for the ceremony was meant to hark back “to traditional culture to foster a sense of unity,” said Sebastian Strangio, author of the Hun Sen’s Cambodia.
Former CNRP Deputy President Mu Sochua who fled the country said she supported Hun Sen’s praying as long as it meant a return to normalcy complete with CNRP officials being allowed to return to their jobs.
“I will join him if he prays for that,” she said, noting that the situation was not normal. “If it was, I would not be in exile.”