Rainsy Leaves Country After King’s Abdication

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has left Phnom Penh amid accusations by CPP and royalist officials that he stoked unrest that pushed King Norodom Sihanouk to surrender the throne.

Sam Rainsy fended off the charges from afar Friday night, tell­ing the Interior Ministry that a message he sent to the King this week reflected “credible” information of a plot to frame his party as the instigator of protests upon the monarch’s return to Phnom Penh.

In reply to queries by co-Min­is­ters Sar Kheng and Prince Nor­odom Sirivudh, Sam Rainsy stated in a written note delivered to the min­istry Friday night that he learned about the planned pro­tests from an unidentified man he spoke to Wednesday at Wat Lang­ka.

“That man told me there will be a demonstration against the King’s return, and he also told me the blame would be put on me and my party,” the letter read.

The protests, planned by well-placed political rivals, aimed to tarnish his party’s image in the eyes of the King and nation, he wrote.

Sam Rainsy was re­ply­ing to ministry inquiries about a message he relayed to King Sih­anouk Wednes­day, warning the King about the bogus protests ahead of his scheduled arrival Thurs­­­day.

Interior Ministry officials say that message, and Sam Rainsy’s fail­ure to report it to police, could have jeopardized national security. He was ordered Thursday af­ter­noon to report to the ministry for questioning. The Interior Ministry had no intelligence of the demonstrations, ministry spokesman Khieu Sopheak said Friday.

Hours after receiving notice of the ministry’s requests Thursday, Sam Rainsy traveled to Bangkok and, on Friday, canceled his sched­uled return to Phnom Penh. Op­position senator Ung Bun Ang said Sam Rainsy was being treated for stomach problems there.

The inquiry could prove dangerous for Sam Rainsy, who is also facing a push from National As­sembly President Prince Nor­o­d­om Ranariddh to lift his parliamentary immunity.

But Sok Phal, head of the In­ter­ior Minis­try’s Central De­partment of Se­curity, said there was no imminent plan to make arrests in relation to Sam Rainsy’s message to the King or the mon­arch’s intentions to step down. “I do not think Sam Rainsy could face arrest…. He is a member of parliament, you know,” Sok Phal said.


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