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01 Feb 2002


I went to town to get my hair cut today (Friday). We had hardly left the factory gates before the traffic ground to a halt - another rally in support of Prime Minister Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party was slowly winding it's way around the suburbs. This is the last day of campaigning before the elections on Sunday. There must have been at least fifty open-back lorries crammed with people waving flags and shouting slogans. At intervals along the street were little groups of onlookers cheering them on. They looked like a cross section of very ordinary citizens to me, not like political activists. "I thought Hun Sen wasn't liked." I ventured to my companion. "They are frightened." he replied. "And they get paid to stand there." At last the procession turned off and we got closer to town. Another rally appeared in one of the side streets, this time from the opposition Royalist party. There were just three or four lorries and a few dozen people. "Why so few?" I asked. "The police only escort and help rallies for Hun Sen's party." No doubt it all looks impressive on TV, but who's fooling who?