Cambodian exiled opposition leader barred from flying to Indonesia

14, Nov. 2019

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KUALA LUMPUR, Kyodo - Sam Rainsy, the self-exiled leader of a banned Cambodian opposition party, was not allowed to board a flight on Wednesday to Jakarta, Indonesia, from Kuala Lumpur, a Malaysian source told Kyodo News.

“Yes, he was barred from going to Jakarta, on Jakarta orders, not Malaysia,” the source told Kyodo News. “They are trying to sort out the issue with Jakarta. He cannot afford to lose Jakarta support.”

Malaysia Airlines later confirmed in a statement that it denied boarding of Sam Rainsy, citing instructions of Indonesian authorities.

But Sam Fernando, spokesman of the Directorate General of Immigration at the Indonesia Ministry of Law and Human Rights, said, “There was no order to bar him from entering Indonesia.”

Earlier Wednesday, the co-founder and acting president of the Cambodia National Rescue Party tweeted a photo of himself and two other party officials at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport holding their suitcases.

Above the photo, the tweet read, “Sam Rainsy and two other CNRP officials (and elected MPs) are arriving at Jakarta Soekarno Hatta International Airport (Terminal 3) at 17.30 by MH723.”

Wanted by Cambodian authorities for allegedly plotting a coup, Sam Rainsy, who is based in Paris, had been prevented from boarding a Thai Airways flight from the French capital to Bangkok last Thursday on the Thai prime minister's order and instead flew into Malaysia on Saturday.

He had wanted to head to Bangkok and from there cross overland into Cambodia where he hoped to lead a peaceful “popular uprising” against strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen's government. (Kyodo)