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PHNOM PENH--Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday appealed for calm, telling Cambodians not to worry about the political situation and just keep enjoying the festivities during the upcoming public holiday.
Cambodia will mark the Independence Day on Saturday, November 9, which will be followed by a three-day Water Festival celebration. November 9 is also the date Mr. Sam Rainsy, vice-president of the now dissolved opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), has chosen for his return from exile.
His planned return – and that of other opposition party figures – has triggered some concerns about the country’s political situation.
Speaking during the launch of the government’s new development strategy on Thursday, Hun Sen gave a reassurance that everything is going to be fine as usual.
“I can reassure that there will be no fighting in the middle of Phnom Penh. Should there be any activity, it will target only those nine individuals. But they won’t be coming, so stop wondering about that,” Hun Sen said.
The Prime Minister was referring to Sam Rainsy, Eng Chhai Eang, Mu Sochua, Ou Chanrith, Ho Vann, Long Ry, Men Sothavrin, Tioulong Saumura, and Nuth Romdoul – the opposition figures who have planned to return to Cambodia from exile.
Hun Sen also thanked some ASEAN members countries for taking actions to help prevent the return of the opposition party members at Cambodia’s request.
On Thursday, Malaysian authorities reportedly detained CNRP vice-president Mu Sochua on her arrival from Indonesia.
In Thailand, Prime Minister of Thailand Prayuth Chan-ocha has said he will not allow an anti-government person to use Thailand for activism, according to Reuters news.
Sam Rainsy had originally planned to fly from France to Thailand. But it is now not clear what his next move will be in the wake of the announcement by the Thai leader.