A government statement on Tuesday said legal action would be taken against former opposition leader Sam Rainsy should the Supreme Court request it, if he were to return to Cambodia.
The government statement said Rainsy returning to Cambodia would be interpreted as a political act promoting the former opposition party. It added that relevant authorities would take legal action should he return, but only if the court requested it.
“The government confirms that [it] still keeps and respects the democratic policy of dividing powers between the executive and the judiciary, as well as [the] legislative."
“In this event, if there were any request from the court, the government, along with authorities, would take measures in accordance with legal power,” the statement read.
The statement was made as senior CNRP members on Monday announced at a meeting held in the US that they are preparing for Rainsy’s return to the Kingdom.
“We are preparing a budget for Rainsy’s return to Cambodia, and we have allocated responsibility for each task,” party stalwart Eng Chhai Eang said.
Government spokesman Phay Siphan on Tuesday said the government would welcome Rainsy’s repatriation.
“Our government has enough legal measures to take action against any persons who insult the verdict of the court, [but] only if the court asks for intervention from the government,” he said.
‘A lot of risks’
Political analyst Meas Nee said Rainsy would not dare to return to Cambodia before his convictions were pardoned, adding that the government would take legal action against Rainsy despite his many supporters in the Kingdom.
“I think the process of Sam Rainsy returning would happen when there was a compromise reached by the international community with the Cambodian government, but if there was no compromise, he would face a lot of risks.
“His arrest would be likely because so far the government has taken legal action against political activists. Things can happen and the government can arrest him,” he said.
Rainsy has announced on a number of occasions his intention to return to Cambodia since he moved to live in France in 2016 to avoid arrest on a slew of outstanding legal cases and convictions. To date, he has not fulfilled this promise.
The number of outstanding legal matters he is wanted for include a five-year prison sentence for forging Cambodian and Vietnamese border documents, and a one year, eight month sentence for defaming Hun Sen after he accused the prime minister of being responsible for the murder of activist Kem Ley in 2016.
Former CNRP member Kong Korm – who has just had his political rights restored as part of the recently approved amendment to Article 45 of the Law on Political Parties allowing banned opposition members to return to politics – was critical of Rainsy’s influence.
“He is just creating wind. But I am afraid that the ones who follow the wind will get a storm in return. The ones who are abroad are making the people in Cambodia victims.
“A good example is that of Kong Mas in Svay Rieng, who was questioned by the Interior Ministry and sent to Prey Sar prison because of the ‘clean fingers campaign’ planned from abroad,” Korm said, referring to Rainsy’s movement to boycott the national elections last year.