Cambodia opposition head compares notes with Suu Kyi

Cambodia's opposition leader-in-exile Sam Rainsy met his Myanmar counterpart Aung San Suu Kyi Saturday in Yangon where they discussed their parallel struggles for democracy, officials from his party said.

Sam Rainsy, seen as the main rival to Cambodia's strongman Prime Minister Hun Sen, lives in France to avoid prison for a string of convictions that critics contend are politically motivated.

In Myanmar his ally Nobel laureate Suu Kyi, who spent 15 years under house arrest for a democracy campaign against the ruling junta, leads the opposition National League for Democracy as a lawmaker following major reforms in 2011.

Rainsy arrived in Yangon on Friday to attend the first congress of the once-banned NLD and met with Suu Kyi on Saturday morning, his party officials said in Phnom Penh.

"He met with Ang San Suu Kyi and shared the experience in their struggle for democracy and how to push for free and fair elections for the two countries," Yim Sovann, spokesman for the Cambodia National Rescue Party, told AFP.

"They shared their experiences" as political figures pushing for "real democracy", he said, adding the pair also discussed other human rights issues.

Rainsy currently heads the Cambodia National Rescue Party, formed to challenge Hun Sen's 28-year grip on power at a general election in July this year.

Cambodia's National Election Committee in November ruled that Rainsy would not be able to stand as a candidate in the poll because of his convictions.

The 63-year-old, who has lived in self-imposed exile in France since 2009, faces a total of 11 years in prison if he returns.

He was sentenced to 10 years in absentia in 2010 for publishing a 'false map' of the border with Vietnam, claiming the neighbour holds Cambodian territory, though the punishment was later reduced by three years.

Another conviction relates to accusations against the foreign minister of being a member of the brutal Khmer Rouge regime in the late 1970s.

Hun Sen, 61, has ruled the country since 1985 and has vowed to stay in power until he is 90. His government is regularly accused of suppressing political freedoms and violating the rights of dissidents.