Sam Rainsy Returns, Unperturbed by Threats

Opposition party leader Sam Rain­sy returned to Phnom Penh from abroad on Thursday, apparently unconcerned by the public urg­­ings of some officials that he be stripped of his par­­liamentary immunity.

Speaking to reporters at Phnom Penh International Air­port, Sam Rainsy said his recent trip to France was not prompted by statements by National As­sembly President Prince Noro­dom Ranariddh and oth­ers who said he should be held responsible for the abdication earlier this month of retired King Norodom Si­ha­nouk. Sam Rainsy left Cam­bodia shortly after Prince Rana­riddh faulted him for writing to the king with al­le­ga­tions that his rivals had plotted to stage anti-Sihanouk pro­tests and then blame the op­po­si­tion.

More than 60 parliamentarians want Sam Rainsy to be prosecuted for spreading mis­in­formation in relation to those al­legations.

Sam Rainsy is also named in a de­famation suit involving Prime Min­ister Hun Sen and linked to comments Sam Rainsy made in the wake of the Jan 22 killing of union leader Chea Vichea.

“If I had any concerns about this matter, I would not have come here,” Sam Rainsy said Thurs­day. He said his trip was for me­dical reasons and to prepare his children for academic exam­ina­tions in France.

In separate cases, Prince Ra­na­riddh has targeted opposition lawmakers Chea Poch and Cheam Channy, urging that the National As­sembly lift their immunity.

Sam Rainsy also took the op­por­tunity to praise King Si­ha­mo­ni, as well as No­ro­dom Sihanouk.

“The King is still the King. We still can stay under his shade and the new King can also give shade for the nation. Now we have two kings, so I think our country will be richer,” he said.


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