The opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) is seeking assistance from a visiting US Congresswoman, Niki Tsongas (D-MA) to help facilitate a political solution to secure the return of its leader who is living in exile in France.
Cambodia is scheduled to hold local commune council elections nationwide in June this year. The opposition party sees their leader’s presence in Cambodia as a moral boost to challenge the ruling party of Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Cambodian People’s Party.
“We also made a request to the congresswoman that when she meets with government officials, she should raise this issue with them,” Son Chhay, SRP parliamentarian, told reporters Tuesday after the meeting. “We do hope that the US government will obtain an appropriate measure to ensure that Mr. Sam Rainsy could return.”
The opposition leader Sam Rainsy is in exile after Cambodian courts sentenced him to 12 years in prison, convicting him for destruction of border markers with Vietnam and for publishing false border documents. He asserts the case was politically motivated.
Niki Tsongas, a Democrat from Massachusetts, home to the second-largest Cambodian community in the US, said her visit is to learn more about the many issues and trends happening in Cambodia.
“Mostly we heard the concerns that the opposition has,” Niki Tsongas told reporters.