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Cambodian Opposition Leader Launches Campaign

  • VOA News

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy (C) greets his supporters in Kampong Speu province July 20, 2013.

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy (C) greets his supporters in Kampong Speu province July 20, 2013.

Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy has begun campaigning for his party ahead of elections, just one day after returning to his homeland from four years of self-imposed exile in France.

The campaign began Saturday, with Rainsy telling reporters in the southern province of Kampong Speu that he condemned an attack on the offices of his Cambodia National Rescue Party in Phnom Penh earlier in the day.

A lone gunman fired a shot at the party's headquarters in the early hours of Saturday while the office was still closed for the night. No one was hurt in the incident, but the opposition immediately condemned the incident as an attempt to intimidate the opposition ahead of July 28 general elections.

The opposition is trying to unseat Rainsy's bitter rival, longtime leader Hun Sen.

Rainsy received a royal pardon last week at the request of Prime Minister Hun Sen. The opposition leader had been living in France after fleeing Cambodia in 2009 to avoid trial on charges many consider were politically motivated. He was greeted by huge crowds when he returned home Friday.

The court sentenced Rainsy to two years in prison for uprooting a temporary border marker with Vietnam, and a further nine years for misinformation after he showed off a map the government said provided the wrong borders.

The sentence was widely seen as a clumsy attempt to use the courts to hobble Hun Sen’s most trenchant and effective political opponent. Hun Sen has been in power for nearly three decades.

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