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Ex-lawmaker stays out of politics

Taing Vida / Khmer Times Share:
Um Sam An, a former opposition lawmaker, was released from jail on Saturday. KT/Chuop Sereyroth

Former opposition lawmaker Um Sam An, who was released from jail on Saturday, said yesterday that he plans to retire from politics unless the CNRP is resurrected.

Mr Sam An, an American and Cambodian citizen, received a royal pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni on Saturday at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Mr Sam An was sentenced to 30 months in prison in October 2017 for accusing the government of ceding territory to Vietnam by using improperly demarcated maps.

“I do not see any potential political party that I could join,” he said yesterday. “So I want to wait and see if the CNRP could return in Cambodian politics. I fully support the opposition party, so I will join this former opposition party if it manages to come back.”

He said that he is going to fly to the United States and reunite with his family in three weeks.

“First, I will go to meet my family because I miss them so much,” he said.

Mr Sam An also called for the release of other former CNRP members incarcerated at Prey Sar prison.

Um Sam An and former CNRP lawmakers at the Vietnam border in 2015. Supplied

“I strongly believe that all these political prisoners will be released, and I hope it could be sooner rather than later because the Prime Minister already revealed his plan to seek royal pardons for them,” he said. “All of them miss their families.”

Mr Hun Sen said on Thursday that he plans to request royal pardons for 12 former members of the dissolved CNRP who were jailed for insurrection and incitement.

Mr Hun Sen said that his decision came after the prisoners asked for his mercy and forgiveness, and noted that it had nothing to do with pressure from the international community.

The former opposition officials and activists include Meach Sovannara, former head of the CNRP’s information department.

Mr Sovannara and ten activists were found guilty of leading and participating in an insurrection after a violent clash between party supporters and Daun Penh district security guards at Freedom Park on July 15, 2014.

Mr Sovannara was sentenced to 20 years in prison and ten others were sentenced to between seven and 20 years.

Former opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Saturday wrote a message on his Facebook saying that Mr Hun Sen was cornered under unprecedented international pressure.

“The louder I say that Hun Sen is giving in to international pressure, the faster he releases political prisoners. Therefore, political prisoners do not need to ask Hun Sen forgiveness,” Mr Rainsy said. “It is Hun Sen who must ask political prisoners for forgiveness for having arrested them in the first place.”

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