Cambodian opposition chief readies return from exile

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"I have no choice but to do so in the face of the treatment that many of my party's supporters have endured", he said in the letter dated October 31, adding, "My return is intended as a peaceful even which will provide an opportunity for political reconciliation and progress for all Cambodians".

Reuters was not immediately able to contact Cambodian authorities. "The popular discontent has never been so strong so it's the right time to create an event that will trigger a democratic change. I will arrive in Bangkok on Friday Nov.8 to be ready to enter #Cambodia on Saturday Nov.9", Rainsy tweeted along with a photo of his airplane ticket.

His return could be thwarted by Thailand, whose prime minister said he would not be allowed entry en route to Cambodia.

Officials have repeatedly warned that if the opposition leaders did make it into Cambodia, they would immediately be arrested.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has not waited for Sam Rainsy's return before acting.

As quoted by Reuters, opposition leader Sam Rainsy has been exiled and living in France for four years, following accusations against him in a defamation case for which he paid US$1 million. He and several colleagues face charges of armed rebellion for their return plan, which could earn them prison terms of 15-30 years.

"I think people in Cambodia know that Hun Sen has a track record of using force to shape the political realities to his liking and he will not hesitate to use force if he thinks his hold on power is threatened", he said.

He denies any wrongdoing and says the charges were politically motivated.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters that in keeping with the agreement of member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, not to interfere in each other's domestic affairs, he has given an order that no resistance organization will be allowed to operate on Thai territory.

Sam Rainsy's party was touted as a threat to Hun Sen's party in last year's general but it was dissolved by the courts.

He added: "I have ordered this, so he probably won't get in".

"The Cambodian government has sent a request for all ASEAN member countries to arrest and deport Mu Sochua to Cambodia".

Dozens of other opposition activists who fled Cambodia fearing arrest have vowed to return in support of Rainsy.

Cambodia's ambassador to Indonesia on Wednesday had a face-to-face confrontation with a top opposition politician who was holding a news conference at a hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia's capital, to explain the returnees' plans.



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