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CNRP leaders plot return for hearing

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Leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), who have been living in self-exile abroad, have announced their plan to return to Cambodia on January 4 next year. Eng Chhai Eang's Facebook page

CNRP leaders plot return for hearing

Leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), who have been living in self-exile abroad, have announced their plan to return to Cambodia on January 4 next year.

They planed to return to Cambodia with the purpose of attending the court hearing on 139 former CNRP activists in Phnom Penh. They claim CNRP deputy president Mu Sochua will be leading them back to the Kingdom.

However, analysts regarded their announcement as a hoax.

The CNRP’s press release on December 1 said their decision to return to Cambodia was made following a meeting of CNRP’s Permanent Committee held from November 27 to 29 via video conference.

“The meeting decided that the leaders and activists of the CNRP who have their names in the Phnom Penh municipal court summons, and now living in exile, will return to Cambodia,” said the statement.

On November 26, Phnom Penh Municipal Court started a hearing on the 139 CNRP activists who have been charged with plotting and incitement. But, the court rescheduled the hearing to January 14 and March 4.

Sochua told The Post on November 1 that the planned return served an indication of them not escaping the legal process.

“Whether they would arrest us or not, I cannot say. But we are ready in all situations. We are also ready for the 14-day quarantine measures to prevent Covid-19 infections; we will follow them. They can arrest us and put us in jail, but what we are demanding is to be present in court on the day of our hearing,” Mu Sochua said.

National Police spokesperson Chhay Kim Khoeun said the police will not block them from returning, but will arrest individuals facing arrest warrants.

Former CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrath said he did not know about the return plan. The possibility of returning was not easy because the passports of the exiled CNRP leaders were made invalid. They would face tough government measures if they return, Chanrath said.

“I don’t have much belief that they would return, not even their previous commitment to return or this one. Firstly, they don’t have the ability to do so, and secondly they don’t have a clear commitment. They have said the same thing for many times already.

“For local members and activists, I think it doesn’t matter much for them to support the return because they are facing intimidation from the government and court. So, they may not come out to show their support for the return because most of them are in the hand of the court,” he said.

US-based political analyst James Sok accused the former CNRP leaders of making another lie. Recently, he said, Sochua went to the Cambodian embassy in Washington requesting passports for former CNRP leaders to return.

“But now, they come out to ridiculously announce that they will return on January 4, 2021. It is ridiculous because they announced their plan to return while they don’t have any valid travel documents.

“Some of them like Mu Sochua who hold foreign passports went to protest before the Cambodian embassy in Washington DC in the US, saying that they could not return to attend the hearing without a valid passport. This is a double lie,” Sok said.

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