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Cambodia opposition leader hustling to fly home

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, front right, talks in front of U.S. Ambassador to Cambodia W. Patrick Murphy, second from left, during the country's 66th Independence Day from France, at the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019. The leader of the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party, Sam Rainsy was boarding a fly in Paris for his attempt to return home to challenge his country's longtime autocratic leader as the security inside the country was on high alert and beefed up. (AP Photo/Vithy Soth)

BANGKOK — Cambodia’s exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy is racing against time to meet his self-declared Saturday deadline to return to his country to lead a movement to depose long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Sam Rainsy said late Friday he was boarding a plane in Paris, his home in exile, for an undisclosed destination.

An effort he made Thursday to fly from Paris to Thailand — Cambodia’s western neighbour — was thwarted when Thai Airways refused to let him board. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha earlier said he would be barred from entering.

Hun Sen’s government has declared Sam Rainsy and fellow leaders of the banned Cambodia National Rescue Party unwelcome to return, beefing up security on the country’s land borders and telling airlines they should not carry him to his homeland.

The Associated Press