Opposition leader Sam Rainsy arrived in the US yesterday and will begin meeting with Cambodian communities there from Saturday, a party spokesman said, with deputy opposition leader Kem Sokha also having departed for Bangkok for medical visits.
CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith said Rainsy would also meet with US officials in Washington, but that he did not yet know with whom. Ponhearith said he knew only that the meetings would be to discuss recent developments in Cambodia’s political situation.
“The [CNRP] president is staying in America because he has a program with some American officials, and is meeting with the Cambodian community. He will be speaking about the political situation and the elections,” he said.
Ponhearith said that Sokha would be in Thailand for up to five days. In the absence of Sokha and Rainsy, who has lived in France since late 2015 to avoid a prison sentence for defamation, CNRP lawmaker Pol Ham assumes the acting presidency of the party.
Cambodians in the US, many of whom hold militantly anti-CPP views, are a vital source of funds for the CNRP, and both Rainsy and Sokha make frequent trips there to raise funds.
The community has also been critical of the party’s attempts to work with the CPP. Rainsy’s latest trip will be the first since Sokha and Prime Minister Hun Sen began their rapprochement this month after a year of government attacks on the opposition party.