Thailand set to hinder Cambodian opposition’s return plans

Sam Rainsy fled to France four years ago following a conviction for criminal defamation

Rainsy, co-founder of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, told The Associated Press he hopes his planned return Saturday will trigger a People's Power-style movement to force Prime Minister Hun Sen from office.

Rainsy, who has lived in France since 2015 to avoid jail for convictions he says are politically motivated, has promised a dramatic homecoming on November 9, Cambodia's Independence Day.

On Sept. 24, he used social media to appeal to the Cambodian armed forces to support the people in overthrowing Prime Minister Hun Sen on November 9, the date of his scheduled return that coincides with independence day.

Cambodian officials have said they have told neighboring countries - all fellow members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - that Sam Rainsy is unwelcome and should not be allowed to cross the border into Cambodia.

There were no anti-Hun Sen groups and police instructed those present not to engage in Cambodian political activities.

Cambodia's ambassador to Indonesia, Hor Nambora, tried to block Sochua's news conference calling it an "illegal" event, a live broadcast of the event showed.

However, Sochua emphasized that the plan will be realized again, based on the determination of the party and the people behind them. As he left, he apologized to journalists for any disruption, but reiterated that Cambodian courts had ruled against the opposition politicians.

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"We have to take the risk". "Returning home for democracy in Cambodia, it's not a revolution, it's not a coup d'etat".

He is likely, however, to be detained in Thailand, which recently turned away the vice president of the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party when she flew into Bangkok's main global airport.

Meanwhile, officers are checking visitors to Cambodia rigorously, asking them to remove caps and face masks or else they will be denied entry, according to Pol Col Benjapol.

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

It also mentioned that Malaysia, another ASEAN member, had stopped and detained two youth activists with the Cambodia National Rescue Party as they sought to board a flight to Thailand.

The blacklisted individuals are among 118 opposition figures who were banned from politics for five years ahead of the July 2018 election as part of the Supreme Court decision to dissolve the party over an alleged plot to topple the government.

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