Government officials yesterday blasted former opposition leader Sam Rainsy for calling on Cambodians living overseas to return with him to a “liberate Cambodia” later this year.
Mr Rainsy was in California on Sunday urging his supporters in places such as the US, Thailand and South Korea to return with him.
Mr Rainsy noted that he is not afraid of arrest and said that he will return in order to “liberate” the Kingdom from Prime Minister Hun Sen.
“Going back to Cambodia doesn’t mean it is okay for Hun Sen to have me arrested – it means that I and the Khmer people will arrest Hun Sen,” he said. “There are millions of people united with each other and are ready to stand up together.”
“I believe our commitment will bring us victory for all Khmer people,” Mr Rainsy added. “Brothers and sisters, we are committed to liberate Cambodia together in 2019.”
Mr Rainsy left the Kingdom in 2015 after he was hit by a slew of court cases. He has been living in exile in France ever since.
Mr Rainsy travels around the world to meet with supporters of the now dissolved CNRP and urges the international community to sanction government officials over alleged human rights violations and perceived democratic setbacks.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan yesterday said the accusations of human rights violations in the Kingdom are false, noting that Mr Rainsy only wants to destroy peace in the Kingdom.
“In Cambodia, there are no human rights violations, like what is being accused,” Mr Eysan said. “There are only legal measures against those who want to destroy peaceful living conditions of people.”
“If you want to know what Cambodian human rights look like, then please accompany or support the return of the convict Sam Rainsy,” he added.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan said Mr Rainsy is afraid to return alone.
“He is afraid of his own return,” Mr Siphan said, noting that Cambodians will not fall for Mr Rainsy’s propaganda. “We are not pressured by his psychological warfare.”
“They [citizens] don’t believe him because they have work to do – they won’t put their neck out for a trap,” Mr Siphan said. “The one who dares to accompany Sam Rainsy is at risk of facing a court.”
He noted that Mr Rainsy is currently wanted by the authorities and will be arrested as soon as he lands in the Kingdom. He said that anyone who accompanies Mr Rainsy upon his return will be branded as an “accomplice.”
“It is not politically motivated, it is purely enforcing the law,” Mr Siphan said.
Last year, Mr Rainsy said he will return to the Kingdom this year.
During a round-table meeting at the Royal Academy of Cambodia last week, analysts concluded that the return of Mr Rainsy would be impossible.
“I am guessing he won’t return,” RAC president Sok Touch said. “If he wants to return, he should have returned last year during the election because people would have rallied for him.”