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CNRP activist freed; Sam Rainsy pledges return to Kingdom

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Former CNRP activist Oeur Narith. Facebook

CNRP activist freed; Sam Rainsy pledges return to Kingdom

The Phnom Penh Municipal Court on Monday released former CNRP activist Oeur Narith on bail after the court ended its questioning on suspicion of receiving money from abroad and plotting to overthrow the government, according to the authorities.

National Police spokesman Chhay Kim Khoeun confirmed Narith was taken to court on Sunday at 3pm.

“We arrested him on a warrant. He is suspected of money laundering and money transferring in connection with feeding people for some movement.

“Oeur Narith was released on bail under surveillance. The evidence of the investigation is related to a matter of debt,” he said.

Deputy prosecutor and Phnom Penh Municipal Court spokesman Kuch Kimlong could not be reached for comment on Monday.

Narith is known as an assistant to former CNRP vice-president Mu Sochua. He was arrested and sentenced to 20 years in prison along with Meach Sovannara and other activists in connection with a 2014 riot at Neak Bridge. He was released in 2018 on a royal pardon.

Former CNRP leader Sam Rainsy, who is living abroad, also spent Sunday stating that he planned to return to Cambodia, but did not specify the date.

Rainsy claimed he would come to mobilise the Cambodian people to defeat Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said the claim is unbelievable and an attempt to keep supporters from forgetting him.

“He made himself float on national and international opinion and media through his provocative words that will revive the movement of activists who could face legal action from the government.

“Thus, it comes out as a picture that shows the government restricts political rights, human rights, and democracy because he wants international pressure on the government. His biggest aim is to see more international pressure on the government,” Phea stressed.

He continued that Rainsy’s goal is the fall of the government so he can return to politics. But the goal cannot be achieved because international pressure is not very heavy.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said Rainsy’s return was an encouragement to his supporters and a boost to his popularity. Such a result could lead to a reaction from the government.

He said a crackdown on Rainsy’s supporters will lead to more criticism and condemnation, undermining the legitimacy of the government and the authorities.

“But Rainsy himself should keep his word if he is really a person who respects his words,” Mong Hay said.

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