TAKEO PROVINCE – Freshly returned from almost four years of self-imposed exile, Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) President Sam Rainsy led a noisy motorcade of a few thousand supporters through Kompong Speu and Takeo provinces on Saturday to rally support for the opposition heading into the July 28 national election.
After an early morning rally in front of the CNRP’s Kompong Speu City headquarters with Vice President Kem Sokha, the pair made a series of stops along the way to address both the train of rowdy party faithful and local villagers.
“Dear people, I am back,” Mr. Rainsy said during a stop at Takeo province’s Ang Tasom market. “Dear people, please have sympathy for our nation, which is being destroyed. Land and forests, lakes and mines are running out.”
Hitting another popular party theme, Mr. Rainsy also made sure to regularly accuse Vietnam and the Vietnamese for many of the country’s problems, using a common ethnic slur for Cambodia’s eastern neighbors.
“The Yuon take all our land, and the Khmer get poorer,” he said, “So all Cambodians please stand up, wake up and vote for the CNRP in order to rescue the nation.”
Waiting his turn, Mr. Sokha followed up by hitting a few points of the party platform, from raising state wages to providing free health care and tackling the country’s rampant corruption.
Having ditched his usual suits for the day for the standard CNRP emblazoned shirt and baseball cap, Mr. Rainsy occasionally stopped along the way for a brisk walk among the roadside stalls and a quick handshake with vendors and shoppers.
Lim Rany, a longtime opposition supporter who runs a clothing stall at Ang Tasom market, was thrilled to see Mr. Rainsy back in Cambodia.
“I’m so excited; he has a great way of talking,” said Ms. Rany, who expected the opposition to gain votes in the province this year.
“Society is so corrupt now, so the people realize it and they wake up,” she said.
Mr. Rainsy is set to continue his seven-day tour Sunday with stops in Kep, Kampot and Preah Sihanouk provinces.
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