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Thailand Bars Cambodia’s Top Opposition Leaders Entry into Kingdom

The opposition politicians had said they hoped to return accompanied by a mass of followers. Including from the huge community of migrant workers from Cambodia in Thailand.



Thailand’s prime minister has said Cambodia’s top opposition leader would not be allowed in to make his way through the Thailand to the Cambodian border. Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Wednesday Thailand would not allow entry to Cambodian opposition founder Sam Rainsy.

At a news conference. Gen Prayut referred to Thailand’s ties with Cambodia as a fellow member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) grouping.

“According to our commitment to Asean, we will not interfere in each other’s internal affairs, and we will not allow an anti-government person to use Thailand for activism,” Gen Prayut said.

“I have ordered this, so he probably won’t get in.”

Leaders of the Cambodia National Rescue Party have vowed to return home despite efforts by their government to thwart them. They are led by party co-founder Sam Rainsy. He has been in exile since 2015 to avoid serving a prison term on politically motivated charges.

Cambodia’s Opposition Leaders Return

The opposition politicians had said they hoped to return accompanied by a mass of followers. Including from the huge community of Cambodian migrant workers in Thailand. They say they seek to spark a popular movement to oust long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen, an autocratic leader who has clamped down on his opponents and demolished democracy.

Sam Rainsy said that he was shocked and disappointed by Thailand’s position. He said he would still try to carry out the plan to return.

“I don’t give up and will try to the last minute. I think no one should stand with Hun Sen — he is a dictator,” the 70-year-old politician, who maintains dual Cambodian and French citizenship, told The Associated Press by phone from Paris.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party was dissolved by court order in late 2017. Allowing Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party to sweep a 2018 general election. Cambodian courts are also considered to be under the influence of Hun Sen. It employs the law to harass its opponents.

Hun Sen’s government has also barred the opposition politicians’ return. Alerting airlines that they would be turned back, and also conveyed its position to neighboring countries. Cambodian security forces have been put on high alert and scores of opposition supporters have been detained.

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