Cambodia lifts opposition leader's house arrest before European Union trade decision

Three military policemen armed with guns patrol near Cambodia Thailand border checkpoint in Poipet Banteay Meanchey province

"We are on the right track", Rainsy, a founder of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), told reporters at the airport.

Published by pro-government outlet Fresh News, the court order stipulates that Kem Sokha, who was arrested in 2017 and accused of treason, remains under court supervision and forbids him from going overseas and conducting any political activities.

"Under the new requirements, he can travel anywhere but can't leave Cambodia ..."

The U.S. State Department expressed concerns Friday over Hun Sen's efforts to keep Sam Rainsy from entering the country.

On Thursday, Sam Rainsy said he was blocked from check-in at Paris-Charles de Gaulle Airport for a Thai Airways flight scheduled to arrive in Bangkok on Friday morning. He took another flight Friday to an undisclosed destination.

For decades, the 70-year-old has been an opponent of Hun Sen, 67, a former Khmer Rouge commander who has ruled his South East Asian country of 16 million people with an iron fist for 34 years.

Instead, Sam Rainsy arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Saturday, where he told reporters he would be in that country for a few days.

It still remains unclear, however, how Sam Rainsy and his entourage will enter Cambodia - a country with which Malaysia has no land border. "Democracy will prevail in Cambodia".

Sar Kheng said Sam Rainsy - who has several convictions with prison sentences to serve along with charges pending for several other alleged offenses - can return as an ordinary person but will have to face due justice.

Rainsy welcomed Ken Sokha's release from house arrest, but said all charges must be dropped and the party reinstated.

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After arriving in Kuala Lumpur from the French capital, he did not say whether he still planned to go home. In preparation for any unrest, Cambodia's military has mobilized on its borders and near airports. "But the government has announced that we will maintain peace and reserve the right to take legal action against all activities aimed at destroying peace, social stability and security", Sar Kheng wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday. Plans to enter via Thailand were shot down earlier this week by Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, who said Sam Rainsy would not be permitted in the country.

Saory Pon called on the government to drop all charges against Kem Sokha and acting CNRP president Sam Rainsy, as well as against all other opposition supporters who had been arrested for their political activism, and to lift the ban on 118 opposition members to allow them to return to politics. During the day, hundreds of security personnel blocked the Poipet worldwide border crossing at the Thai border, and only selectively let people in.

Security forces patrolled the capital Phnom Penh in utility vehicles during celebrations for the 66th anniversary of independence from France.

Speaking to RFA, CNRP deputy president Eng Chhai Eang said that the statements from Sok Ey San and Cambodia's mission in Geneva suggested that the CPP has no intention of initiating dialogue with the opposition, as urged by the USA and United Nations, but he said that the CNRP will not abandon its goals.

"Democracy will prevail", Sam Rainsy said.

"I will go back home, of course".

His freedom to hold meetings appeared to mark a rapid shift in stance from Malaysia, which earlier this week detained and later released the Cambodian opposition party's vice-president, Mu Sochua, and two other officials.

"We call on authorities to protect and respect the human rights of all people in Cambodia and to take meaningful steps to reopen political and civic space", the statement said, adding that members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) should comply with obligations under worldwide law to respect the principle of non-refoulement where individuals may be at risk of persecution or torture if returned. "More countries in ASEAN need to emulate Malaysia going forward if the bloc is ever going to shake the moniker of being primarily a dictator's club".

It was only when Kem Sokha and Sam Rainsy brought together rival opposition factions ahead of elections in 2013 that they posed a serious electoral threat to Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

Mr Rainsy also vowed to return home in 2015 despite threats to arrest him, but did not.

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