Exiled Cambodian opposition politician Sam Rainsy was prevented from boarding a flight to Bangkok from Paris on Thursday November 7th, whence he had hoped to return home, AFP reported.
"I am extremely shocked because the people need me in Cambodia," the opposition leader, and long-time opponent of Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen told journalists at Charles de Gaulle Airport shortly after an agent at the Thai Airways counter turned him away.
Rainsy had planned to end his exile to mark Cambodian Independence Day on Saturday November 9th, supported by other exiled opposition members in Thailand before crossing the border to their home country.
Sen, who has ruled Cambodia since 1985, had vowed not to allow Rainsy to return home, and had sought support from regional neighbours to block the opposition's plans.
Rainsy has lived in France since 2015 to avoid a prison sentence in Cambodia for convictions he says were politically motivated.
"I will never give up," Rainsy said as he got into a taxi to leave the airport, saying he would seek "an alternative flight to be able to leave for Thailand today."
Meanwhile, earlier Thursday, Mu Sochua, the deputy leader of Rainsy's Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) was detained in Malaysia as she tried to return.
Rainsy and several opposition officials were charged in September, with plotting a coup, which carries a prison term of up to 30 years.