Cambodia opposition leader returns from exile

Self-exiled Sam Rainsy, recently pardoned by the king, vows to unseat Prime Minister Hun Sen in upcoming elections.

    Thousands of cheering supporters greeted Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy as he returned from self-imposed exile to spearhead his party's election campaign against well-entrenched Prime Minister Hun Sen.

    Sam Rainsy was greeted by a large crowd of supporters from his Cambodia National Rescue Party after he landed Friday at the airport in the capital, Phnom Penh.

    Rainsy, who was pardoned by King Sihamoni at Hun Sen's request a few days ago, lives in France, and had faced 11 years in jail after he was convicted in absentia for charges that he contends were politically motivated, including publishing a false map of the border with Vietnam.

    Rainsy kissed the ground at the airport upon returning from France shortly after arriving on a flight via Bangkok. "I'm very happy. I came back to rescue the nation with you all," he told supporters before heading for Democracy Park where he was due to speak.

    The French-educated former banker holds joint French and Cambodian citizenship, and is travelling on his French passport as his Cambodian passport was revoked by the government after his convictions.

    However, Rainsy has been removed from the electoral register and cannot contest polls unless parliament amends the law.

    A Cambodian government official told AFP that Rainsy’s pardon was requested by Hun Sen "in the spirit of reconciliation", and Rainsy had "no right" to run as a candidate in the July 28 polls.

    Hun Sen has held power for 28 years, and his party holds 90 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly.

    The opposition leader has been in exile since 2009 to avoid serving 11 years in prison on charges many consider politically motivated.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    Cricket World Cup 2019 Quiz: How many runs can you score?

    Cricket World Cup 2019 Quiz: How many runs can you score?

    Pick your team and answer as many correct questions in three minutes.

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Visualising every Saudi coalition air raid on Yemen

    Since March 2015, Saudi Arabia and a coalition of Arab states have launched more than 19,278 air raids across Yemen.

    Remembering Chernobyl

    Remembering Chernobyl

    The fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion remains as politicised as ever, 28 years on.