Cambodia’s top opposition leader is vowing to keep a promise to return and lead demonstrations against the country’s long-time authoritarian leader after he was barred from boarding a flight to Southeast Asia.
Sam Rainsy, self-exiled head of the now-banned Cambodia National Rescue Party, says he was not allowed to get on a Thai Airways flight from Paris to Bangkok on Thursday, despite having purchased a ticket.
“They said they have received from very high up the instruction not to allow me to board,” he told reporters at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport. “I’m very shocked, I’m very disappointed. I want to go back, my people are waiting for me.”
Rainsy accuses Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen of trying to block his return home. The former Khmer Rouge commander, who has been in office for more than three decades, views any homecoming of the opposition leaders and their planned demonstrations as tantamount to an attempted coup. Just this year, dozens of opposition activists have been arrested for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government, and troops deployed along Cambodia’s borders have reportedly been ordered to attack “on sight” should the leadership return.
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