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Cambodia’s Former Opposition Chief Sam Rainsy Officially Launches Political Movement

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Serendipity Road Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Serendipity Road Sihanoukville, Cambodia. Photo: Wikirictor.

Cambodia’s exiled former opposition leader Sam Rainsy has officially launched a movement to keep his now-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) “alive” without fear of government reprisal, outlining an action plan with the objective of ensuring elections this year are free and fair.

Speaking to around 400 supporters in Long Beach, California on Sunday, Sam Rainsy—who has lived in exile since 2015 to avoid convictions widely seen as politically motivated—said that the new Cambodia National Rescue Movement (CNRM) “cannot be dissolved” because it does not need to register with the government, and will not be subject to monitoring by its ministries.

“This movement is very symbolic—it’s like a soul or spirit that cannot be dissolved, as it is not registered on paper,” he said, adding that the CNRM is a way around a ban on the CNRP, which was dissolved by Cambodia’s Supreme Court in November for its alleged role in a plot to topple the government.

“Anyone who has the same interests in rescuing our country from the dictatorship of [Prime Minister] Hun Sen can join it on their own volition.”

Sam Rainsy said the CNRP had been “paralyzed” by the court’s decision to dissolve it and ban 118 of its lawmakers from politics for five years, as well as the September arrest of current party President Kem Sokha on charges of “treason,” and suggested something needed to be done to “revive it” and pressure the government to reverse course ahead of a general election in July.

“A human body needs movement to stay alive and, likewise, the CNRP needs a movement like the CNRM to keep it alive,” he said.

“We have to move forward. We cannot silently allow Hun Sen to persecute us. What the CNRP cannot do due to persecution, the CNRM can step in to offer assistance.”

According to Sam Rainsy, the CNRM will operate according to an action plan that includes lobbying foreign governments to pressure Cambodia’s government and calling on influential companies to reconsider purchasing products from the country, given the “abuses of human rights and democracy committed by Hun Sen” and his ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).

Domestically, he said, the CNRM will urge Cambodians “from all walks of life to rise up against the persecution.”

Full story:

Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Nareth Muong. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.

Copyright © 1998-2018, RFA. Used with the permission of Radio Free Asia, 2025 M St. NW, Suite 300, Washington DC 20036.

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