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Cambodian Opposition Leader Sam Rainsy Seeks Support For Election Reform
Source: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-10-05/an-opposition-leader-sam-rainsy-vows-to-return-to-cambodia/4297530?section=australianetworknews
Source Date: Friday, October 05, 2012
Country: Cambodia
Created: Oct 05, 2012

Veteran Cambodian politician Sam Rainsy says he wants Australia to join international pressure on Cambodia to reform its election system.

He has been formally accepted as the head of the newly formed Cambodia National Rescue Party, which plans to take part in next year's national elections.

Sam Rainsy was convicted in 2010 on disinformation charges, and a government spokesman Keo Remy says he will be arrested and sent to prison if he returns to Cambodia.

He's told Radio Australia's Connect Asia he hopes international pressure will mean that won't be the case.

"This time I expect international pressure on the Cambodian Government to reform the international system, in line with recommendations from the United Nations," he said.

"Among the UN recommendations there is an amnesty for all those who have been sentenced by the Cambodian Government...because of political charges, so they can return and run in the next election.

"Australia is a major donor and I call on the Australian Government to put pressure on the Cambodian Government to respect the United Nations and to reform the election system.

The party is a merger between the Sam Rainsy Party and the Human Rights Party, led by Kem Sokha, and plans to compete in the national elections to be held next year.

Sam Rainsy says setting a fair minimum wage and taking action on land claims will be the party's main issues.

"We have to rescue our country, meaning to rescue the living conditions of the population," he said.

"[That means] to give back the land, the rice fields, the forests, the natural resources that have been taken from the ordinary people...to give back to them and stop the land concessions."

In the last election, the Sam Rainsy Party, won 26 seats and the Human Rights Party won 3 seats, well short of the 90 seats secured by the Cambodian People's Party, led by Prime Minister Hun Sen.

"If the elections are free and fair and meeting international standards, then the result would be totally different from the results that we've seen in the past," he said.

"The ruling party, especially Mr Hun Sen, who is the longest serving leader in the world...so I think it his turn now to stop ruling the country in the way he has been doing for 30 years.

"There will be a democratic change for sure."
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