Former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy, who is barred from political activity in Cambodia and remains exiled in France, yesterday announced he has created an association to promote democracy in Cambodia.
Mr Rainsy was barred from any political activity after the government amended the law on political parties, outlawing convicts from being associated with parties.
Mr Rainsy remains in exile to avoid jail time, and numerous charges, over a slew of convictions levelled against him, which he and government critics have labelled politically motivated.
On his Facebook page yesterday, Mr Rainsy announced the creation of the Association for Democracy in Cambodia.
“Because I wish to continue to help and serve my beloved Cambodia, I believe it is my duty to use my newly found liberty and independence to rally Cambodians towards the goal of national unity based on democracy,” Mr Rainsy said.
“National unity is necessary to resolve the current crisis and ensure the survival of Cambodia.”
Mr Rainsy said that only democracy will allow all Cambodians to be heard, respect one another and work together to defend the fundamental interests of their country, and to ensure economic and social progress.
“I call on Cambodians from all walks of life, whether in Cambodia or abroad, whatever their political affiliation or preference, to join this association, which has as its sole aim the unity of Cambodians on the basis of real democracy, the only guarantee of human rights, the rule of law and good governance,” Mr Rainsy added.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the government is not concerned with the activities of Mr Rainsy, whose influence in Cambodia has all but disappeared.
“Sam Rainsy is a person who is not welcomed around the world,” Mr Eysan said. “We don’t worry about Sam Rainsy, if he wants to create something, it’s up to him.”
CNRP vice-president Mu Sochua declined to comment.
Political analyst Meas Ny said Mr Rainsy’s association may be able to unite the many Cambodians living abroad.
“This is a good idea because many Cambodian people live abroad,” Mr Ny said.
Social analyst Lao Mong Hay said the fact that Mr Rainsy included the word democracy in his association’s name shows that Cambodia has not yet achieved it.
“He still has many supporters inside and outside the country,” he added.