Cambodian opposition leader Rainsy says he will return on Saturday

Cheryl Sanders
November 8, 2019

Sam Rainsy, co-founder of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, said he hopes his planned return on Saturday will trigger a People Power-style movement to force Prime Minister Hun Sen from office.

Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said on Wednesday that Rainsy would not be allowed to enter Thailand.

"This may be the last time you see me alive or as a free man", he said.

In Brussels, Sam Rainsy, also Cambodia's most prominent opposition politician, says he's ready to risk imprisonment or death by returning to his country from self-imposed exile to unseat the country's longtime ruler.

Mu Sochua, Vice President of Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), the main opposition to Hun Sen's administration, will, along with CNRP President Sam Rainsy, return home on November 9 on the 66th Cambodia Independence Day.

Rainsy fled to France four years ago following a conviction for criminal defamation in which he was ordered to pay $1 million in compensation. The party had been dissolved by the Cambodian Court of Justice in November 2017.

He denies any wrongdoing and says the charges were politically motivated.

Supporters of Kem Sokha, leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, stand outside the Appeal Court during a bail hearing for the detained opposition leader in Phnom Penh, Cambodia on September 26, 2017.

Cambodian officials have said they have told neighboring countries - all fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - that Sam Rainsy is unwelcome and should not be allowed to cross the border into Cambodia.

"I have ordered this, so he probably won't get in".

The country recently rejected Mu Sochua, vice president of the CNRP, when she flew to the main worldwide airport in Bangkok.

She is one of several colleagues who are planning to return with Sam Rainsy, despite Cambodia's government also declaring them unwelcome. Malaysia's Home Ministry and Immigration Department withdrew the order after an appeal, said Jerald Joseph of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission.

On Monday, Malaysian authorities detained two Cambodian opposition activists while they were waiting to board a flight to Thailand.

His government has already arrested almost 50 activists, associated with the banned party.

Later the same year, the Supreme Court dissolved the CNRP, preventing it from fielding candidates in the 2018 election, in which Hun Sen's party went on to win every seat in parliament.

Other reports by iNewsToday