Cambodia's opposition leader not returning

Cambodia's opposition leader not returning

The move on Sunday came a day after self-exiled acting opposition leader Sam Rainsy failed to return to Cambodia, as promised, and a few days before the European Union is scheduled to finalise its report on the potential withdrawal of a key trade agreement.

"For the sake of Cambodian people's safety and for the sake of Cambodia's stability, the level of security throughout the country needs to be on high alert and beefed up", said Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Chhum Socheat.

Before Sam Rainsy's failed attempt to board a flight to Thailand, Malaysia detained Mu Sochua at the Kuala Lumpur airport before releasing her 24 hours later along with two other opposition leaders detained earlier.

An effort Sam Rainsy made Thursday to fly from Paris to Thailand - Cambodia's western neighbor - was thwarted when Thai Airways refused to let him board.

The new court ruling, which cited health concerns, forbids the 66-year-old from leaving Cambodia or joining political activities.

Mr Hun Sen, 67, a former Khmer Rouge commander, has ruled the country of 16 million for more than 34 years with an iron hand and a wily ability to play off his opponents against each other and sow division among them.

"Keep up the hope".

Sam Rainsy was witnessed by a Reuters reporter just after 3.30 p.m. local time on Saturday at Kuala Lumpur International Airport after a flight from Paris, where he has been residing.

The Special Rapporteur's comments came a day after the USA embassy in Phnom Penh expressed support for the "reopening of political and civic space" and called for a "peaceful and inclusive process of national reconciliation in order to restore the genuine multiparty democracy and better respect fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Cambodian constitution". "Democracy will prevail in Cambodia".

"No one blocked the return of the convict Sam Rainsy and his group".

Rainsy welcomed Ken Sokha's release from house arrest, but said all charges must be dropped and the party reinstated.

"I want to go back to my home country", he said, while declining to say how he plans to do so.

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Sar Kheng, the interior minister and deputy prime minister, announced the shift in the government's stand on his Facebook page on Saturday. Cambodia's government said he was not barred from entering, but warned it would take action against anyone threatening state security.

Cambodia's self-exiled opposition party founder Sam Rainsy, who has vowed to return to his home country, greets supporters after being prevented from checking-in for a flight from Paris to Bangkok at Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, France on November 7, 2019.

In Cambodia on Saturday, Hun Sen and constitutional monarch King Norodom Sihamoni attended a celebration ceremony at Independence Monument in Phnom Penh, the capital.

Speaking to RFA, CNRP deputy president Eng Chhai Eang said that the statements from Sok Ey San and Cambodia's mission in Geneva suggested that the CPP has no intention of initiating dialogue with the opposition, as urged by the US and United Nations, but he said that the CNRP will not abandon its goals. He had yet to speak to Kem Sokha, he said.

"You can see the intimidation, the harassment, the crackdown, the arrests".

Police armed with assault rifles lined up at the Poipet border crossing with Thailand, where Sam Rainsy had said earlier that he planned to cross.

Rainsy was speaking to reporters after landing in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

Kem Sokha was accused of plotting with foreigners to oust Mr Hun Sen - a charge he dismissed as nonsense.

Human Rights Watch Deputy Asia Director Phil Robertson said Kem Sokha should not have been arrested in the first place. "More governments in ASEAN need to emulate Malaysia if the bloc is ever going to rid itself of its reputation as a rights abusing club of recalcitrant dictators".

"More importantly, such dropping of the charge would open the way for a reinstatement of the banned opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was dissolved in 2017 precisely on the base of this unsubstantiated "treason" charge".

The Trump administration, also on Friday, condemned the recent arrests and reminded Malaysia of its obligations under worldwide law barring the return of people to face torture.

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