A round-table meeting was held at the Royal Academy of Cambodia on Wednesday to discuss what would happen should Sam Rainsy, the “acting president” of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), return to the Kingdom later this year as claimed by the former party’s leadership.
At the meeting, which was also attended by Phay Siphan, a minister attached to Prime Minister Hun Sen, Royal Academy of Cambodia president Sok Touch said Rainsy would not be able to enter Cambodia “even if accompanied by foreign troops”.
Government spokesman Siphan, who is also a Royal Academy of Cambodia official, said any unrest resulting from Rainsy’s return would be broken up “without tolerance”.
CNRP vice-president Mu Sochua said earlier this month that Rainsy and the party’s self-exiled leadership would return to the Kingdom in August or September.
Held under the theme What would happen should Sam Rainsy return to Cambodia?, the meeting at the Royal Academy of Cambodia was attended by around 200 people including students and monks.
Touch said Rainsy would not be able to return as he was facing nine outstanding court cases. The CNRP co-founder would also not be able to muster supporters at home or abroad to follow him unless he established a new party.
“Even if Rainsy were to be accompanied by foreign troops and wanted to travel through Thailand, Vietnam or Laos, he would still not be able to step foot on Cambodian soil because the friendly neighbouring countries would not allow him to do so."
“They would also not allow him to muster the strength of his supporters in their countries,” Touch said.
Stressing that the Constitution also had to be protected, he said: “Should Rainsy dare enter Cambodian soil, the prime minister has the right to safeguard the Constitution – the nation’s supreme law – with the army an instrument of the government.
“The army doesn’t need to vow to defend the nation, it is obliged to protect sovereignty. If members of the armed forces did not protect it, the prime minister has the right to remove them because the army is an instrument of the state.”
Touch said everything is protected because Hun Sen became prime minister with the majority of votes to form a legitimate government.
“If there were to be foreign pressure, it would be nothing more than pressure and would make Cambodia stronger."
“It would also provide the chance to strengthen Cambodia internally more and more because Hun Sen had recently put together reforms to further facilitate the trade of imports and exports,” he said.
Siphan said Rainsy would not dare to return to his homeland because he is a cheat who told lies to get the support of foreigners. Despite having dual citizenship, those who are guilty would inevitably be punished by the law, he said.
“If he returns home, the police will act on the courts’ warrants. If there were to be unrest should people mobilise and his supporters showed their support for him at the airport, that is a movement. A crackdown would be carried out without tolerance,” Siphan said.
Sochua told The Post on Wednesday via email: “Returning is our constitutional and fundamental right. We are going to find peaceful solutions for our nation.”
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said on Wednesday that Rainsy does not care about his outstanding legal cases as he considers them politically motivated.
Sochua said earlier this month that the return of the CNRP leadership would be “peaceful, non-violent and in accordance with democratic principles”.
“We will return for democracy in a peaceful way as Cambodia is our nation. The CNRP planning committee has taken this joint decision after careful consideration,” Sochua told The Post.