Opposition leader to return to Cambodia

Clay Curtis
November 8, 2019

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.

"I have no choice but to do so in the face of the treatment that many of my party's supporters have endured", he said in the letter dated October 31, adding, "My return is intended as a peaceful even which will provide an opportunity for political reconciliation and progress for all Cambodians".

A high-profile Cambodian opposition leader is preparing to return to his country even as the government ramps up another political crackdown. Malaysia's Home Ministry and Immigration Department withdrew the order after an appeal, said Jerald Joseph of the Malaysian Human Rights Commission.

For the upcoming returning-home plan, CNRP leaders will try the similar scenario of the land route through the Thailand-Cambodia border, after Rainsy arrives at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport on a Thai Airways flight TG931 from France on November 8.

The Hun Sen government deployed troops along its borders in response to Rainsy's announcement of his planned return. Most if not all have convictions or charges pending against them, including inciting armed rebellion despite their avowedly nonviolent intentions. Huge crowds came out in support when he claimed fraud had robbed his party of victory.

"We are risking our lives".

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Phay Siphan, chief Cambodian government spokesman, said Tuesday that the government is "just enforcing the rule of law against those who want to stage a "coup" and destroy the country's peace and stability". "We have been asking governments all around the world to witness our return to our nation, our homeland, with good intentions and totally transparent".

The former finance minister is also unlikely to be allowed to enter Thailand, which recently turned away the vice president of the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party when she flew into Bangkok's main global airport.

Sochua announced at a press conference in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, that she and her colleagues would also be attempting to return to Cambodia on Saturday.

After the news conference, the Cambodian Embassy in Jakarta issued a press release saying that Mu Sochua was a fugitive from the law because a Cambodian court on October 2 had issued an arrest warrant against her for her allegedly seeking to overthrow a legally elected government.

The embassy statement described that action as being "in true ASEAN spirit".

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