A few hundred CNRP supporters welcomed opposition leaders Sam Rainsy and Kem Sokha back to Cambodia last night after a week of political turmoil in which two lawmakers were beaten by pro-government thugs and Mr. Sokha was ousted from his parliamentary leadership position.
Arriving at the Phnom Penh International Airport just before 8 p.m., Mr. Rainsy, who has been in Europe, and Mr. Sokha, who went to Bangkok last week to visit the injured lawmakers, arrived together and stressed the need for a return to peace.
“We come here to reinforce and strengthen the culture of dialogue because we believe there is no choice beside discussing things with each other in the spirit of respect,” Mr. Rainsy said, referring to the detente between the CPP and CNRP that is meant to replace political violence with civil discourse.
“It is proper and professional to independently investigate in order to find the perpetrators and people who are behind the perpetrators, who caused injury for the two CNRP lawmakers,” Mr. Rainsy said.
The opposition leader avoided the question of whether he will apologize to Mr. Hun Sen for calling last week’s lawmaker assaults an example of the premier’s “fascist methods,” which the CPP has said is necessary for the culture of dialogue to continue.
“From day to day, there are incidents and there is sometimes tension and small accusations against each other, and it must not make culture of dialogue decrease or come into conflict, it must encourage us to find peaceful solutions,” he said.
Mr. Rainsy would not be drawn on a question about what he thought the CPP’s motives were in removing Mr. Sokha as the Assembly’s first vice president last Friday, referring the question to the CPP.
During the Assembly session last week, senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said that Mr. Sokha was a force of chaos in the country.
“Whenever he goes somewhere he creates chaos, which affects the peace, and that’s prohibited by the 1993 Constitution.” Mr. Yeap said of Mr. Sokha. “He’s always saying something that causes disputes between the two parties.”
Mr. Sokha did not speak during the impromptu press conference outside the airport last night, and the pair soon departed to their waiting cars to join the motorcade of supporters on the road to return to their homes.
Before arriving in Phnom Penh, the opposition leaders went together to visit Nhay Chamroeun and Kong Saphea, the CNRP lawmakers who were dragged out of their cars as they were leaving the Assembly and beaten by men attending a protest against Mr. Sokha.
The pair are in a hospital in Bangkok and both have received surgery for broken bones and other injuries they received at the hands of the pro-CPP thugs.
Three men turned themselves in to the committee investigating the attacks yesterday, according to Interior Ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak, who said he did not expect more arrests to be made because the men said they carried out the attacks on their own.