Cambodian PM offers rival chance to return _ and risk prison – Georgia News

Cambodian PM offers rival chance to return _ and risk prison – Georgia News

Cambodia’s prime minister lifted a ban Wednesday on the return to the country of his main rival, daring him to risk imprisonment under an outstanding criminal conviction.

The order issued by Hun Sen allowing the return of Sam Rainsy, for two decades his most persistent political opponent, comes as attention is being turned to next year’s general election. Hun Sen is one of Asia’s most cunning politicians, wielding either carrot or stick to coopt or vanquish his foes.

In nationwide local elections earlier this month, Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party won most constituencies but received a weak majority of the popular vote, where the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party made gains.

Hun Sen has repeatedly sought to sideline Sam Rainsy, especially by pursuing defamation cases against him. Sam Rainsy has stayed abroad since late 2015, when a conviction he believed was covered by an earlier pardon was revived. Last October, he was officially banned from re-entering the country, and several other cases against him were launched or concluded.

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