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Travel ban lifted on Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy

Travel

 The Cambodian government lifted travel restrictions on opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Wednesday morning, clearing the way for him to possibly return to the country ahead of next year's national elections.

The decision reverses an October 2016 ban on Rainsy from re-entering the country, according to Fresh News, a government-linked Khmer news outlet.

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The Cambodian government lifted travel restrictions on opposition leader Sam Rainsy on Wednesday morning. Picture: Cambodia Leadership Skills.

The dual French-Cambodian citizen has been living in self-imposed exile in France since November 2015 after a series of lawsuits were filed against him by members of the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

At the time, he was head of the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP), the country's largest opposition party and a major contender in what has become a de facto two-party system.

Rainsy resigned in February 2017 after he was convicted in absentia for defamation and incitement but continues to maintain an active presence on his Facebook page, where he frequently criticises the Cambodian government to his 4 million followers.

Rainsy has lived in exile during several periods in his political career and most recently returned to Cambodia before the 2013 national election to much acclaim, when his party nearly unseated the long-ruling CPP.

Should he return, it is uncertain whether he will still have to serve the jail time included in his multiple sentences.

In the most recent local elections on June 4, the CNRP dramatically increased their presence in local government, although they failed to reach a majority.

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