Thai PM bans Cambodian opposition leader from returning via Thailand

Rainsy who has lived in France since 2015 has promised a dramatic homecoming on November 9 Cambodia's Independence Day

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 wish to request, therefore, the right to land at Bangkok worldwide airport on November 8, and then to enter Cambodia at Poipet, near Aranyaprathet", Rainsy wrote on his letter to Thailand Prime Minister, Prayut Chan-o-cha dated October 31, 2019, as seen by ANTARA. "I have assessed those risks and they are worth taking, worth taking because the Cambodian people have been suffering for a long time, so we have to try to put an end to the sufferings", he said.

Plans by self-exiled leaders of Cambodia's banned opposition party to return to their homeland hit a major roadblock Wednesday 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. "He will not be allowed to enter (Thailand)", Prayut told reporters, a day after Sam Rainsy sent him a letter requesting permission to transit the country while returning to Cambodia where he faces arrest upon arrival.

Sam Rainsy, the founder of the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party, has spent the last four years in self-imposed exile.

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. She holds dual Cambodian and US citizenship. Huge crowds came out in support when he claimed fraud had robbed his party of victory. As he left, he apologized to journalists for any disruption, but reiterated that Cambodian courts had ruled against the opposition politicians.

The CNRP's remaining leader in Cambodia, Kem Sokha, was charged with treason in 2017 and months later the Supreme Court dissolved the opposition party.

The country recently turned away Mu Sochua, the CNRP's vice president, when she flew into Bangkok's main global airport.

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

Meanwhile, officers are checking visitors to Cambodia rigorously, asking them to remove caps and face masks or else they will be denied entry, according to Pol Col Benjapol.

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



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