PHNOM PENH, Oct. 2 (Xinhua) -- Cambodian Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen on Wednesday called on the people to distance themselves from self-exiled former opposition leader Sam Rainsy's rebellion attempt, saying that anyone who supported the plot would be risking a prison term.
His call came after Rainsy, the former president of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), along with other exiled former opposition politicians, announced in a statement last month that he would return to Cambodia on Nov. 9, 2019 and that the former CNRP would provide money to soldiers who defected from the government.
The dissolved party also launched a so-called "nine-fingers" campaign to support Rainsy's return.
"This is not the freedom of expression, but the attempt to overthrow the state," Hun Sen said in a speech to almost 1,200 students at a university graduation ceremony here. "Anyone who joins the campaign aiming to destroy the country's peace on Nov. 9 will be convicted."
Nov. 9 is Cambodia's independence day. The kingdom gained independence from France in 1953.
The Cambodian prime minister said anyone who supported the plot would be jailed for five to 10 years.
"Any act supporting the coup is the illegal act that must be punished by law," he said. "If you do not fear and join it, you will be convicted. However, if you've just joined it, but you confess sincerely, you will not be convicted."
Meanwhile, Hun Sen announced to take Nov. 9 as the day of eating Ambok, traditional Khmer pounded rice, saying that the upcoming Ambok eating day is to show the protection of "nation, religion, and king".
A Cambodian court on Sept. 26 charged Rainsy and eight other exiled former opposition politicians with a coup plot, the crime that could be jailed between 15 and 30 years if convicted.
Rainsy, 70, has been living in self-imposed exile in France since 2015 to avoid at least 16-year-prison sentence for a slew of criminal charges.
Political analysts believe that Rainsy's announcement of return is just a "political warfare" and that he dares not return if the country's king does not grant him a royal pardon.