Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - CNRP deputy claims MEPs to accompany Rainsy’s return

CNRP deputy claims MEPs to accompany Rainsy’s return

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Sam Rainsy and officials from the EU meet on Thursday. Facebook

CNRP deputy claims MEPs to accompany Rainsy’s return

Mu Sochua, the deputy president of the dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has claimed that at least six Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) will accompany the court-dissolved party’s leadership on their return to Cambodia.

Meanwhile, former CNRP president Kem Sokha, who is at home on court-supervised bail pending his court case on a treason charge, has said he will serve Cambodia “as long as the sun still rises”.

Sochua, Sam Rainsy, CNRP “acting president”, and his wife Tioulong Saumura visited the European Parliament in Brussels on Wednesday “to demand the release of Kem Sokha, freedom for Cambodians, the restoration of democracy and respect for human rights”.

Sochua insisted the MEPs were not urged to withdraw Cambodia’s access to the EU’s “Everything But Arms” (EBA) agreement at the meeting.

She posted video clips of interviews with MEPs in which they expressed their support of the self-exiled CNRP leaders.

On Thursday, she told The Post that within just two hours of meeting with them, six MEPs had shown their support for accompanying Rainsy and other high-ranking CNRP officials on their return to Cambodia.

“We also have commitments from Australia, New Zealand, the US and Asean. They will go [to Cambodia] to ensure democracy and human rights are restored, Kem Sokha is freed and the CNRP is restored – no fake democracy."

“Democracy must be restored to avoid the withdrawal of access to EBA. The ball is in Hun Sen’s court,” she said.

Rainsy said on Facebook after meeting with MEPs that Prime Minister Hun Sen was solely responsible for the fate of EBA for Cambodia. He said retaining access to EBA was easy.

“It is not hard . . . just release Kem Sokha. Sokha was wrongly charged. Drop the charge against him, which is baseless and illegitimate, and allow the CNRP to operate again. It is not hard,” Rainsy said.

Meanwhile, CNRP president Sokha took to Facebook to thank those who wished him well as he turned 67 on Thursday.

He said his compatriots gave him the courage to continue after having lost his freedom for nearly two years. He said nothing could dampen his patriotism for the nation.

“Although I cannot meet people like before, although I cannot hear your concerns directly, no matter what the obstacle is, as long as the sun still rises, please Cambodia, trust that I, Kem Sokha, wait for the day that I can serve the nation further.”

“No matter what suffering I am enduring and in what form, there is no word ‘regret’ for Kem Sokha, who has devoted himself to the nation and its citizens, democracy, freedom, sovereignty and national reconciliation,” Sokha said.

He said his wish for his birthday was happiness, peace, freedom, prosperity and justice for all people at all levels.

Sokha’s daughter Kem Monovitya said on Facebook that she and her family, colleagues and those who loved democracy and social justice would continue to walk with Sokha.

They would do so until the Cambodian ship reached its destination – one where Cambodian people claimed ownership of their country, she said.

“Your daughter believes that your devotion, strength and honesty will lead us to our goal. Please, father, take care of your health and continue being a heroic role model in the democratisation mission,” she said.

Government spokesperson Phay Siphan said foreigners had to respect Cambodian sovereignty.

“These foreigners [at the European Parliament] have to understand that Cambodia is a sovereign state."

“The government has never prevented [CNRP members abroad] from returning to Cambodia, but if they come here to do any activity intended to go against Cambodian sovereignty, we have the right to prevent them from entering and tell them to leave.”

Siphan said protecting Cambodian sovereignty is the obligation of all Cambodians and CNRP co-founder Sokha had to fulfil his duty before the court.

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