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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Officials voice concern with protecting Rainsy

Officials voice concern with protecting Rainsy

With opposition icon Sam Rainsy expected to be greeted by tens of thousands of people upon his return to the Kingdom on Friday, authorities yesterday expressed concern for his personal safety.

Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, said Rainsy’s Cambodia National Rescue Party has asked authorities to ensure that security is tight when their leader returns.

According to Sopheak, although a sizeable number of police officers will be deployed to keep the situation under control, supporters crowding the streets will be difficult to monitor.

He said authorities are asking the CNRP to closely cooperate with them.

“The government is really concerned about [Rainsy’s] safety. If his safety is secured, it will be a government success,” Sopheak said.

“We are worried about his safety, as a lot supporters will turn out,” he said.

“We have to be careful every step of the way.”

Rainsy, who has lived in self-imposed exile since 2009 to avoid a 12-year jail term, was granted a Royal pardon by King Norodom Sihamoni last week, paving the way for him to lead his party to the election on July 28.

According to a CNRP statement released yesterday, Rainsy is set to touch down at 9:05am on Friday and will hold a press briefing upon his arrival before leading supporters from the airport to a rally at Freedom Park near Wat Phnom.

The CNRP have only requested security for Rainsy while he greets supporters but have not asked authorities for personal security guards, Sopheak said.

“If they request [for personal security guards], we will consider it,” he added.

“Security cannot be [set up after the fact] … so we have to make the fence first before we lose the cow.”

CNRP spokesman Yim Sovann could not be reached for comment yesterday, but he told the Post late last week that about 20,000 supporters are set to greet Rainsy at the airport upon his arrival, and an additional 20,000 will meet him at the Freedom Park rally.

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