Hunt on for Rainsy sup­port­ers

Bangkok Post - - FRONT PAGE - BANGKOK POST AND REUTERS

Se­cu­rity forces on both sides of the east­ern bor­der re­main on high alert for sup­port­ers of Sam Rainsy, de­spite the Cam­bo­dian op­po­si­tion leader be­ing barred from board­ing a flight to Bangkok for his promised re­turn to chal­lenge strong­man Prime Min­is­ter Hun Sen.

Pol Col Ruangsak Buadaeng, the Klong Luek po­lice chief, said yes­ter­day that ho­tels were be­ing checked to en­sure Cam­bo­dian politi­cians were not stay­ing in the area.

Road­side check­points were still in place in all dis­tricts in the east­ern­most prov­ince of Sa Kaeo, mon­i­tor­ing the move­ment of peo­ple to­wards the bor­der. Posters of 21 Cam­bo­dian op­po­si­tion politi­cians, in­clud­ing Sam Rainsy, were dis­played with cap­tions in both Thai and Kh­mer.

The posters fea­ture a mes­sage is­sued by Ban­teay Meanchey po­lice in Cam­bo­dia, ask­ing peo­ple to call them im­me­di­ately if they spot any of the “rebels”.

In Poi Pet, vil­lagers were banned from tak­ing pho­tos of soldiers or­dered to pa­trol the Cam­bo­dian bor­der town, rais­ing ten­sions even fur­ther.

Cam­bo­dian au­thor­i­ties have asked Thai of­fi­cials to keep an eye out for po­lit­i­cal ri­vals of premier Hun Sen, who are re­port­edly plan­ning to re­turn for protests against the strong­man leader to­day, to mark Cam­bo­dia’s In­de­pen­dence Day.

Cam­bo­dia gained in­de­pen­dence from France on Nov 9, 1953.

Thai se­cu­rity forces in Surin, which also bor­ders Cam­bo­dia, tight­ened se­cu­rity at the Chong Chom-Os­mach bor­der check­point but re­ported no un­usual de­vel­op­ments in the prov­ince.

Thai gam­blers con­tin­ued to flow across the bor­der to visit Cam­bo­dian casi­nos all day yes­ter­day, but the trav­ellers and their ve­hi­cles had to sub­mit to rig­or­ous checks amid con­cerns over at­tempts to stir up po­lit­i­cal tur­moil.

Armed Cam­bo­dian bor­der guards have been told to brace for the un­ex­pected, though there are no re­ports that Sam Rainsy and his group plan to slip into Cam­bo­dia through Surin.

But fear of pos­si­ble vi­o­lence prompted many Cam­bo­dian bor­der ven­dors to stay put in Thai­land un­til they feel it is safe to re­turn home.

Sam Rainsy was barred from board­ing Thai Air­ways In­ter­na­tional flight TG931 from Paris to Bangkok on Thurs­day. The air­line said his ticket was not valid.

Prime Min­is­ter Prayut Chan-o-cha said this week he would not let the op­po­si­tion leader pass through Thai­land for his planned re­turn to Cam­bo­dia.

In Ph­nom Penh, the United States yes­ter­day ex­pressed con­cern over Hun Sen’s crack­down against demo­cratic norms, which has seen the main op­po­si­tion party dis­banded, dozens of ac­tivists ar­rested and op­po­si­tion lead­ers abroad pre­vent­ing from re­turn­ing.

Rights group Amnesty In­ter­na­tional mean­while de­cried the co­op­er­a­tion of­fered by Malaysia and Thai­land in pre­vent­ing Cam­bo­dian op­po­si­tion fig­ures from re­turn­ing home to rally sup­port.

On Wed­nes­day, Malaysia de­tained Sam Rainsy’s US-based deputy, Mu Sochua, at Kuala Lumpur air­port, be­fore re­leas­ing her 24 hours later along with two fel­low op­po­si­tion lead­ers de­tained ear­lier. Mu Sochua re­mained in Kuala Lumpur and said she still plans to re­turn to Cam­bo­dia by land.

NOPPARAT KINGKAEW

Cam­bo­dian soldiers along the Thai-Cam­bo­dian bor­der are on alert to pre­vent op­po­si­tion fig­ures en­ter­ing Cam­bo­dia from Thai­land.

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