2 Groups Vow To Protest Sam Rainsy’s Return

Two academic bodies an­nounc­ed this week that they would pro­test Sam Rainsy’s return to Cambo­dia, ac­cusing the opposition leader of de­stabilizing the country, organizing pro­tests against Prime Minister Hun Sen in the US, and being part of the so-called “shadow army” of jail­ed op­position lawmaker Cheam Chan­ny.

The Cambodian Higher Edu­ca­tion Association and the Royal Uni­ver­sity of Law and Economic Sciences said they would organize students and faculty to rally against the opposition leader when he ar­rives in Phnom Penh.

“The demonstration is a result of students’ reaction to demonstrations against Samdech Hun Sen,” said In Viracheat, head of the Cam­bo­dian Higher Education As­so­ci­ation, adding that he had already re­quested permission for the pro­test from Phnom Penh municipality.

Protests against the premier were organized in New York during his trip to UN headquarters and in Paris during his visit with French Prime Minister Jacques Chirac. Mam Bun Neang, first deputy gov­­­ernor of Phnom Penh, said he had not received the protest re­quest.

Youk Ngoy, rector of the Royal Uni­versity of Law and Economic Sciences, could not be reached for comment Wednesday, but a statement released by the university Tuesday accused Sam Rainsy of being responsible for Cheam Chan­ny’s “shadow army.”

Sam Rainsy welcomed the pro­tests and asserted that he would re­turn to Cambodia by the end of Sept­ember or in early October.

“They have the right to demonstrate,” Sam Rainsy said Wednes­day on Kem Sokha’s human rights radio program. Khem Sokha is director of the Cam­bodian Center for Human Rights.

“I suggest the authorities respect the rights of everyone,” Rainsy said.

“We respect their rights, even though we disagree,” added opposition spokesman Ung Bun-Ang. “All we ask is that the protest be nonviolent.”

Opposition officials have pledged several times over the last few months that Sam Rainsy’s return was imminent. They last insisted the opposition leader would return on Sept 14.

Ung Bun-Ang suggested that the two groups also protest against poverty and rising fuel prices.


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