Boat racers train yesterday before this weekend’s Water Festival in the capital. KT/Siv Channa
Ahead of Sam Rainsy’s planned return to the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday urged the public to stay calm and enjoy the Water Festival over the weekend.
“I would like to inform that there will be no clashes in Phnom Penh because we are targetting only nine people,” Mr Hun Sen said, referring to Rainsy and his colleagues Eng Chhai Eang, Mu Sochua, Ou Chanrith, Ho Vann, Long Ry, Men Sothavrin, Tioulong Saumura and Nuth Romdol.
“Please do not be worried about those nine people because they will not come,” Mr Hun Sen said, noting that Rainsy, who earlier planned to return to the Kingdom on Saturday, will instead arrive in Cambodia on Saturday or Sunday. “We will take legal action against those nine people who are wanted by the court.
Rainsy has been vowing to return to the Kingdom on November 9, to restore democracy and human rights. However, the government accused him and his associates of planning a coup.
Yesterday, Rainsy was blocked in Paris from boarding a plane destined for Thailand.
“I am extremely shocked because the people need me in Cambodia,” he told journalists at Charles de Gaulle airport shortly after an agent at the Thai Airways counter turned him away.
Former CNRP members over the past few weeks have been spotted in Malaysia and Indonesia. Some were detained for questioning by the authorities.
Rainsy himself was barred from transiting in Thailand.
Mr Hun Sen yesterday thanked Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha for not allowing Rainsy to enter the country.
“While I attended the Asean Summit in Thailand, I worked with all our close partners in Asean,” he said. “It is very important to maintain stability in the Kingdom.”
Mr Hun Sen said Rainsy crossed the line when he insulted the King and called on thousands of people to arrest him and overthrow the government.
“Hun Sen is not easy to arrest,” he said, noting that those involved in Rainsy’s return should confess to avoid prison. “We will tolerate you because you will give up your coup plot.”
Mr Hun Sen said the international community must understand Cambodia’s stance.
“We have no choice, we need to protect people who are enjoying peace,” he said. “We must not allow a small group of people to destroy peace.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Prak Sokhonn yesterday said the government sent court warrants to Asean countries, saying that Rainsy’s group is wanted for criminal offences in Cambodia.
“There is a principle to not interfere in each other’s internal affairs in Asean,” Mr Sokhonn said. “Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has not allowed anti-government activism on Thai territory.” / Khuon Narim / Khmer Times
Additional reporting by AFP
Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s busy capital, sits at the junction of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap rivers. It was a hub for both the Khmer Empire and French colonialists. On its walkable riverfront, lined with parks, restaurants and bars, are the ornate Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and the National Museum, displaying artifacts from around the country. At the city’s heart is the massive, art deco Central Market.
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