A Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesperson mockingly told exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Wednesday that “the door is open” for his return, adding that he would be greeted with “handcuffs and prison” upon his return.
Sok Eysan wrote on messaging app Telegram that Rainsy – the “acting president” of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), currently living in France – ran scared from Cambodia, adding that he would be jailed if he dared return.
“A person who runs away from the country is a person who is scared, while a person who is not scared would never run away [from the country]."
“Come in to make all Cambodian people see. Don’t just say [you will return] and not dare to do [it]. Now the door is open, please come in, the handcuffs and prison are always waiting and welcoming,” Eysan wrote.
His comments come in response to Rainsy’s recent claims that Prime Minister Hun Sen and the CPP were “scared” of his unity with CNRP president Kem Sokha, who is currently at home on bail on treason charges.
On December 23, a post on the facebook pages of former senior CNRP officials Um Virakroath and Eng Chhai Eang also claimed that Rainsy would return to Cambodia “before Khmer New Year”.
“Let’s go back home … Mr President Sam Rainsy will lead all CNRP officials who are living abroad to return to the motherland before Khmer New Year. We will go to pick up Mr President [and greet him]. We offer to join Mr President Sam Rainsy,” the post read.
Rainsy has also repeatedly called for banned former members of the CNRP not to “play Hun Sen’s games” by requesting a return to politics as part of a recent amendment to the Law on Political Parties, allowing for the reinstatement of their political rights.
In November 2017, the CNRP and 118 of its politicians were banned from politics by the Supreme Court as a consequence of the treason case against Sokha.
Rainsy has previously claimed “99 per cent” of banned CNRP politicians would not seek the return of their political rights, adding on December 29 that “only two cheap, short-sighted officials” would do so. His comments have caused controversy in the party, with some feeling they are divisive in nature.
However, Eysan claimed that far from being united, Rainsy’s colleagues were leaving his side, and urged his return to Cambodia saying his arrest and imprisonment would be a positive development for the Kingdom.
“When this convict [Rainsy] is imprisoned in Cambodia, there will be no people inciting and provoking problems in Cambodia and we will have political stability,” he said.
Eysan added that the CPP would not negotiate with a “traitorous group”.
Former CNRP official Kong Kimhak said he did not “believe that Rainsy will come back if there is no pardon.”
Rainsy could not be reached for comment on this issue.