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PM to attend summit in face of protests

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
Prime Minister Hun Sen toasts an Australian aid package in May 2000. Reuters

Prime Minister Hun Sen will attend the Asean-Australia Special Summit this week in the face of planned protests against his attendance, including by the wife of slain political analyst Kem Ley who was recently granted refugee status.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement yesterday noting that Mr Hun Sen would lead a delegation to attend the summit this weekend in Sydney.

Mr Hun Sen will preside over the signing ceremony of a memorandum of understanding between Asean and Australia on Cooperation to Combat International Terrorism, the statement said.

On the sidelines of the summit, Mr Hun Sen will hold bilateral talks with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and will also pay a visit to Cambodian communities, it added.

Cambodian communities in Australia said they were well prepared to greet Mr Hun Sen warmly.

According to a joint statement issued by seven Cambodian associations based in Australia and New Zealand, Cambodians were delighted with the news that the premier would meet with them.

“We would like to strongly pronounce our patronage and welcome the upcoming presence of Samdech Hun Sen,” it said.

However, not all are awaiting the Prime Minister’s arrival with open arms.

Bou Rachana, wife of slain political analyst Kem Ley, who in 2016 was shot and killed at a coffee shop in Phnom Penh, on Sunday called on people to join her in protesting against Mr Hun Sen when he attends the summit on Saturday.

“I would like to invite Cambodian brothers and sisters living in Sydney to join me in protest on Friday and Saturday,” Ms Rachana said in a short video posted to her Facebook page.

After Mr Ley’s funeral ceremony, Ms Rachana and her five sons left Cambodia for Thailand after receiving refugee status from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

They arrived in Melbourne, Australia last month after staying in Thailand for nearly two years while waiting to be granted residency.

There are about 30,000 Cambodian-born Australians, with the majority living in Melbourne and Sydney. Many fled Cambodia during the civil wars of the 1970s and 1980s.

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