Thailand Says Rainsy Banned Entry to Prevent ‘Political Activities’

Self-exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Wednesday went ahead with the launch of his new book in Thailand—albeit via videoconference—after he was refused entry into the country on Tuesday.

Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Manasvi Srisodapol said the decision to ban Mr. Rainsy was made in order to stop him from using Thailand as a base to conduct his political activities.

“On this particular matter, we have been in close touch with Mr. Sam Rainsy for quite some time to advise him to postpone his visit to Thailand until after the elections, because in the past, he has been known to use opportunities with his visits to manipulate political activities against the government of Cambodia, and Thailand has a longstanding policy not to allow Thailand to be used by a third party to undertake political activities that would destabilize another country—in this case, an Asean member state,” Mr. Manasvi said.

“This is a decision based on the Thai authorities themselves,” he added when asked if officials in Cambodia had contacted the Thai government about Mr. Rainsy’s planned visit to Thailand.

Asked if the videoconference would be allowed to go ahead, Mr. Manasvi said: “That is up to the organizers, and they fully understand Thailand’s policies in this regard.”

Speaking by telephone from Singapore ahead of the videoconference, Mr. Rainsy, who has been banned from running in July’s national election due to his convictions on charges of incitement and the destruction of public property, said he had been due to speak at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand to launch his book, “We Didn’t Start the Fire: My Struggle for Democracy in Cambodia.”

“I think the fact is that Hun Sen is very afraid of the Cambodia Na­tional Rescue Party and he must have begged the Thai authorities to prevent me from moving too close to Cambodia,” Mr. Rainsy said.

Interior Ministry spokesman Lieutenant General Khieu Sopheak said he had no information about Mr. Rainsy’s refusal of entry into Thailand.

(Additional reporting by Phorn Bopha)

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