Awaiting Political Foes, Cambodia Stages Security Exercise

Sam Rainsy has been Hun Sen’s most prominent foe for decades. He went into exile in late 2015 to avoid a two-year prison sentence on charges of criminal defamation. Other legal cases have since been lodged against him by the government.

Several hundred members of Cambodia’s security forces staged a major exercise Friday in a show of force ahead of the promised return of exiled opposition leaders whom the government says are unwelcome.

The drills by army and police units in Banteay Meanchey province, which borders Thailand, were mainly to provide security for the public but also to defend against any “anarchic activity” that might be carried by the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, said Gen. Chhum Socheat, a spokesman for the Ministry of National Defense. The party was dissolved by a court order in 2017.

Party co-founder Sam Rainsy has declared that he and his colleagues will return to Cambodia on Nov. 9 — Independence Day — along with a mass of supporters. While Thailand has never been publicly specified, it is the only practical location for such a plan.

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