BANGKOK: Plans by self-exiled leaders of Cambodia’s banned opposition party to return to their homeland hit a major roadblock when Thailand’s prime minister said their top leader would not be allowed in to make his way through the country to the Cambodian border.
Leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party have vowed to return home on Saturday despite efforts by their government to thwart them.
They are led by party co-founder Sam Rainsy (pic), who has been in exile since 2015 to avoid serving a prison term on charges that he says are politically motivated.
The opposition politicians had said yesterday that they hoped to return accompanied by a mass of followers, including Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand.
They seek to spark a popular movement to oust Prime Minister Hun Sen, an autocratic leader who has clamped down on his opponents and demolished democracy.Sam Rainsy, 70, said he was shocked and disappointed by Thailand’s position, but that he would still try to return.
“I don’t give up. I will try till the last minute. I think no one should stand with Hun Sen, he is a dictator, ” the politician, who maintains dual Cambodian and French citizenship, said by phone from Paris.
Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told reporters that in keeping with the agreement of member countries of the Association of South-East Asian Nations not to interfere in each other’s domestic affairs, he had ordered that no resistance organisation could operate on Thai territory.“So, he (Sam Rainsy) won’t be able to enter Thailand, ” Prayut said.
Yesterday, Cambodia’s ambassador to Indonesia had a face-to-face confrontation with a top opposition politician who was holding a news conference at a hotel in Jakarta, to explain the returnees’ plans.
Ambassador Hor Nambora barged into the news conference and spoke in front of the assembled journalists as Cambodia National Rescue Party vice-president Mu Sochua sat waiting to speak.
The envoy described the opposition politicians as fugitives and criminals, and accused Mu Sochua of trying to mislead Indonesian immigration authorities into thinking she was only a tourist by using her American passport. She holds dual Cambodian and US citizenship. — AP