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Rainsy: EU trade move to bolster bid for Cambodian democracy

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Cambodian exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy says the European Union’s consideration of lifting trade privileges for Phnom Penh will add momentum to efforts to restore democracy in the country despite a government crackdown.

The EU is to publish a report Tuesday on a preliminary assessment that Rainsy says will be the basis for suspending trade privileges for Cambodia.

Rainsy says Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government has no choice but to restore democracy if “they don’t want Cambodia to face an economic crisis, with hundreds of thousands of workers losing their job.”

Rainsy, who was allowed into Malaysia after Thailand barred him, met Tuesday with some Malaysian lawmakers. He said he will remain in Southeast Asia until an opportune time to return home, adding the “situation can change very quickly.”

The Associated Press