Cambodia

Sam Rainsy Optimistic on Chances for Return Ahead of Elections

Sam Rainsy - when still in Cambodia - speaking during a campaign rally in Kandal province, Cambodia, July 11, 2008.
Sam Rainsy - when still in Cambodia - speaking during a campaign rally in Kandal province, Cambodia, July 11, 2008.
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Heng Reaksmey
— Opposition leader Sam Rainsy says he has renewed optimism he will find a way to return to Cambodia for the July national elections.

Without him there, the elections will not be considered free and fair, he told VOA Khmer by phone on Wednesday.

“When the Cambodian leaders understand the situation, I will return to Cambodia,” he said, a day after a senior US diplomat met with Cambodian officials to in part call for his return.

In Phnom Penh on Tuesday, Michael Posner, Assistant Secretary of State in charge of human rights, democracy and labor, urged Cambodian government officials to find a way for Sam Rainsy to return and lead the opposition in credible elections later this year.

Posner also urged the release of Beehive Radio owner Mam Sonando, who is serving a 20-year prison sentence on charges that rights groups say were brought against him after he criticized Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Sam Rainsy is facing up to 12 years in prison, on charges he says are politically motivated, should he return to Cambodia.

Ouch Borith, secretary of state for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has said Sam Rainsy’s case remains a matter for the courts.

“The United States is teaching Cambodia to turn into an anarchic country,” he told reporters Tuesday, in response to Posner’s meetings.

Independent political analyst Lao Monghay said Wednesday the Cambodian government is trying to deflect responsibility back to the courts.
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