Opposition Leader Returns to Country After 17-Day US Trip

CNRP President Kem Sokha arrived home on Tuesday from the U.S., where he met with officials in the administration of President Donald Trump and raised funds for the party during a 17-day trip to more than a dozen states.

Mr. Sokha said he saw an uptick in support from Cambodian communities in the U.S. across 13 states, including Massachusetts, where he stopped in Lowell, home to one of the largest U.S. populations of Cambodians and Cambodian-Americans.

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CNRP President Kem Sokha arrives at Phnom Penh International Airport on Tuesday, in a photograph posted to Mr. Sokha’s Facebook page.

“They are keen to support the CNRP,” Mr. Sokha told an audience of opposition officials and supporters after landing at Phnom Penh International Airport.

Mr. Sokha said he had also met with members of the U.S. House of Representatives and NGO officials.

In his last stopover on Sunday in Seattle, the opposition leader, who has faced a year of increasing political tension and legal challenges as the June 4 commune elections approach, lamented the fact that not every Cambodian home was equipped with a toilet and that forests were being depleted.

“They lack toilets even at home. Brothers and sisters see people from the provinces crowd into a 12-seat van. When they want to piss, they ask the driver to pull over, but the driver says that he can stop when he reaches the forest. There is no forest left. All are gone. It is very miserable, brothers and sisters. I cannot allow our country to be like that,” he said to cheers from supporters.

According to data from the World Health Organization and Unicef, about 60 percent of rural sanitation in Cambodia was classified as open defecation, and 30 percent of rural sanitation facilities were improved in 2015.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan disputed Mr. Sokha’s claim about a lack of access to household toilets, saying that his statement was meant to play on the sympathies of Cambodians in the U.S. and raise money.

“His claim is meant to look down on Cambodia and a way to get more funds. The people will not believe him,” Mr. Eysan said.

“If there are no toilets, where could Mr. Kem Sokha defecate?” he said.

Last month, Mr. Sokha courted supporters in Australia and New Zealand in his first fundraising trip as party president, a role previously filled by exiled former opposition leader Sam Rainsy.

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