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EU delegation to help facilitate Sam Rainsy’s return, SRP official says

EU delegation to help facilitate Sam Rainsy’s return, SRP official says

A DELEGATION from the European Union met with officials from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) at the party’s Phnom Penh headquarters Thursday, offering to help secure the return of SRP president Sam Rainsy in time for the 2013 election, the party’s spokesman said.

“The head of the EU [delegation] said that the presence of the opposition party is necessary. The presence of the opposition is a guarantee that the government will walk on the right path,” spokesman Yim Sovann told reporters after the meeting.

Yim Sovann said that the delegates are visiting Cambodia to assess the political situation, and that they expressed the importance of guaranteeing respect for parliamentarians’ rights. “Excellency Sam Rainsy’s presence is necessary. If there is no Sam Rainsy, there is no democracy in Cambodia because Sam Rainsy is the president of largest opposition party,” he added.

Sam Rainsy, currently in France, faces arrest and imprisonment if he returns to Cambodia. In January, the Svay Rieng provincial court sentenced him to two years in prison for uprooting temporary border posts that villagers said were placed in their rice fields by Vietnamese authorities.

Phay Siphan, spokesman of the Council of Ministers, said the government did not prohibit Sam Rainsy’s return, but that he must be responsible before the law.

“There is nothing to prohibit him. He was punished by the law. He must be responsible for his legal obligations. Democracy occurs as a system, not on an individual basis,” he said.

Sam Rainsy also faces additional charges of falsifying public documents and spreading misinformation after releasing maps showing four border posts sitting up to 500 metres inside Cambodian territory as defined by French- and American-drawn survey maps.

In a letter dated Tuesday, Sam Rainsy wrote to King Father Norodom Sihanouk that unnamed border experts he has consulted in France and Switzerland have backed up his claims of Vietnamese encroachment.

“In spite of the denial of the current Cambodian authorities and in spite of their acts of repression towards Khmer patriots who dare to denounce the infringement of the territorial integrity of Cambodia by our powerful eastern neighbor, no one can contest the reality of the facts any longer,” Sam Rainsy stated in the letter.

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