Prime Minister Hun Sen today challenged Sam Rainsy to return to the country to serve his sentences.
Speaking to thousands of garment workers in Kandal province, Mr Hun Sen said that Mr Rainsy should fulfill his promise by returning to the country in March 2019 as prisons are waiting for him.
“I am ready to greet that [prisoner] to return to the country. I have already prepared handcuffs and prisons for you,” he said. “Please hero, come back to Cambodia before the deadline on March 1st. If not, you are not a human being, but you would be the beast.”
“Prey Sar prison and Trapaing Thlong prison are waiting. Come and serve your sentence. Do not flee and vows to come back. Come right now,” he said.
Mr Hun Sen said he had informed all airlines to allow Mr Rainsy to return to the country, noting that three international airports in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk provinces would greet him.
“Bring him in. I want to make it clear with him. Do not forbid any airlines from bringing him in. It’s hard to have him arrested, so now he desires to come. It’s a lot easier,” he said.
Mr Rainsy has lived in self-imposed exile since 2015 after being hit with slew of court cases, including by Mr Hun Sen who accused him of defamation.
Mr Hun Sen reiterated that he would no longer request pardon for Mr Rainsy.
“We must implement the court’s verdict. I do not care what others say. Please come and serve the sentence and be the hero. As far as I know, he is coward,” he said.
Mr Hun Sen said that the dissolved CNRP no longer exists.
“The ghost [CNRP] could not be resuscitated. Do not wish that the Sun rise at midnight and there would not be a re-election until 2023,” Mr Hun Sen said.
Mr Rainsy has vowed to return to Cambodia in 2019 to fight for democracy. He was appointed as acting president of the CNRP on December 9 by his supporters during a two-day international conference in the US, but was dismissed by former opposition leader Kem Sokha’s supporters.