The great disappointment: How Sam Rainsy’s long-promised return fell flat

Sam Rainsy’s long-promised return to Cambodia on November 9 seems to have fallen at the first hurdle. For the exiled opposition leader, this humiliation could mark the end of his decades-long political career.

Needless to say, it was not the last time that Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s supporters would see him alive as a free man.

As he turned from the Thai Airways check-in counter to face the dozens of reporters gathered at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport, the man who had promised to storm across the Thai-Cambodia border on November 9 at the head of an army of returning migrant workers looked stunned. He had not even been allowed to board the flight to Bangkok, the first leg of his long-promised return.

“I’m not allowed to board. They said they have received from very high up the instruction not to allow me to board,” he said. “I’m very shocked, I’m very disappointed. I want to go back, my people are waiting for me.”

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