November 13, 2019 / 1:28 PM / 25 days ago

Indonesia barred Cambodia's Rainsy from flight to Jakarta: airline

FILE PHOTO: Self-exiled Cambodian opposition party founder Sam Rainsy reacts as he speaks to members of media after a visit to Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, November 12, 2019. REUTERS/Lim Huey Teng

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia Airlines said on Wednesday it had barred veteran Cambodian opposition figure Sam Rainsy from a flight from Kuala Lumpur to the Indonesian capital Jakarta on the instruction of Indonesian authorities.

Rainsy later said on Twitter that he had missed his flight and would try to get another Malaysia Airlines flight to Jakarta on Thursday.

Rainsy, who lives in self-imposed exile in France, has been in Malaysia since the weekend after initially saying he planned to return home on Saturday to rally opposition to Cambodian authoritarian ruler Hun Sen.

“Malaysia Airlines denied boarding of the said passenger under the instruction of the Indonesian authorities,” Malaysia Airlines said in a statement in response to a Reuters question as to whether Rainsy had been stopped from boarding.

Asked about the Malaysia Airlines statement, Sam Fernando, the Indonesian Immigration Directorate General spokesperson, said that “from the Immigration’s side, there has not been a request to deny his entry here”.

Denny Abdi, director of the Southeast Asia division of the Indonesian Foreign Ministry said: “We are not aware of him coming to Jakarta.”

Rainsy had said he planned to return to Cambodia on Saturday, Independence Day, in what Prime Minister Hun Sen characterised as an attempted coup against his rule of more than three decades.

But Rainsy was blocked in Paris from boarding a Thai Airways flight to Bangkok on Thursday. He then flew to Malaysia, saying he wanted to rally support for the Cambodian opposition in the region.

Reporting by Liz Lee in Kuala Lumpur and Tom Allard and Stanley Widianto in Jakarta; Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Toby Chopra

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