Cambodia

Opposition Leader Seeks Return To Mourn Sihanouk

Sam Rainsy is facing at least 10 years imprisonment if he returns to Cambodia, on charges related to destroying border markers near Vietnam in 2009.

A Buddhist monk holds flowers as he joins others waiting for the coffin of the former king Norodom Sihanouk to arrive at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh October 17, 2012. Tens of thousands poured into Cambodia's capital to witness the procession on Wednesday. A Buddhist monk holds flowers as he joins others waiting for the coffin of the former king Norodom Sihanouk to arrive at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh October 17, 2012. Tens of thousands poured into Cambodia's capital to witness the procession on Wednesday.
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A Buddhist monk holds flowers as he joins others waiting for the coffin of the former king Norodom Sihanouk to arrive at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh October 17, 2012. Tens of thousands poured into Cambodia's capital to witness the procession on Wednesday.
A Buddhist monk holds flowers as he joins others waiting for the coffin of the former king Norodom Sihanouk to arrive at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh October 17, 2012. Tens of thousands poured into Cambodia's capital to witness the procession on Wednesday.
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Kong SothanarithVOA Khmer
PHNOM PENH - Sam Rainsy, the exiled leader of Cambodia’s opposition, has written the prime minister seeking permission to return to the country to mourn the passing of the former king, “and see his face for the last time.”

Sam Rainsy is facing at least 10 years imprisonment if he returns to Cambodia, on charges related to destroying border markers near Vietnam in 2009.

He has claimed the charges against him are political and that a political solution will be possible for his return ahead of 2013 elections. Prime Minister Hun Sen has said otherwise.

In his Oct. 17 letter to Hun Sen, Sam Rainsy said he should be allowed to return in the spirit of reconciliation and national unity in the wake of Sihanouk’s passing.

“He can come as he wants,” government spokesman Khieu Kanharith told VOA Khmer Thursday. “But we cannot give any orders to the court.”

Political analyst Chea Vannath told VOA Khmer that the administration should consider amnesty for convicted people in exile, such as Sam Rainsy.

Sam Rainy: The Death of King Father, The Great Lost for Cambodiai
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VOA Khmer
16 October 2012
King Father Norodom Sihanouk's death shocks and saddens Sam Rainsy, who is now in France anticipating the return to Cambodia through political reconciliation. "We are all most shocked by the news of King Father's death," Sam Rainsy, who is in France, told VOA Khmer's Sok Khemera in Washington in a skype interview on Tuesday. Sam Rainsy added he is worried that present leaders could forget or even ignor the king's advice of national reconciliation. Former King Norodom Sihanouk passed away Monday morning of heart attack. The Cambodia government plans on bringing his body back to Cambodia on Wednesday.

“The king father would have been pleased to see his children have unity, for his children to have mutual compassion, for his children to mutually forgive each other,” she said. “All of these are in the national interest, and all of these are for the Cambodians.”
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