Sam Rainsy heads to Singapore
Cambodian opposition leader continues Asean tour but return to homeland in doubt
JAKARTA: Sam Rainsy, the self-exiled leader of a banned Cambodian opposition party, departed Indonesia for Singapore on Friday evening after a one-day visit, an Indonesian official said.
The co-founder and acting president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) left Jakarta on a Singapore Airlines flight and was expected to arrive in the city-state around 10pm local time. said Sam Fernando, a spokesman at the Directorate General of Immigration of the Law and Human Rights Ministry.
It was not immediately known whether he would be transiting through Singapore or stopping over.
Wanted by Cambodian authorities for allegedly plotting a coup, Sam Rainsy, who is based in Paris, planned to enter Cambodia by land from Thailand last weekend, but Thai authorities prevented him from flying to the country from Paris, where he is based.
The 70-year-old co-founder and acting president of the CNRP flew instead to Malaysia, where he spent a few days rallying support for his cause before flying to Jakarta on Thursday.
During his short stay in the Indonesian capital, he met some parliamentarians as well as commissioners of the government-sanctioned but independent National Commission on Human Rights and representatives of nongovernmental organizations dealing with human rights issues.
He reiterated his hope of returning to his native country “very soon”.
Sam Rainsy has been in self-exile abroad since 2015 and faces more than 10 cases of lawsuits filed against him by members of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party.
Cambodian authorities have vowed to arrest him and other CNRP members if they return to the country.
A Cambodian court subsequently charged Sam Rainsy and eight other party figures with plotting a coup.
Prior to its court-ordered dissolution in November 2017, the CNRP was the sole opposition party in the National Assembly, with 55 seats compared with 68 held by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
Its removal ahead of the July 2018 election enabled Hun Sen’s party to win all 125 seats and him to extend his 33-year rule for another five years.