Head of state Prince Norodom Sihanouk described the Khmer Rouge's recent attitude
as flexible, but warned that 'be careful with their sweet words'.
"Be careful with their [Khmer Rouge] flexibility and their sweet words. We already
tried their fruit. It was sweet, but it was also poisonous," he warned.
"They have changed about 60 or 70 percent and they are flexible. This is probably
the message of Buddha that has reached them," Sihanouk said in a speech marking
a traditional observance of Buddhist precepts on Saturday June 26.
About 500 monks, nuns and worshippers gathered in front of Wat Phtum to celebrate
the sacred half-moon day which was presided over by Sihanouk and his wife.
The prince welcomed KR leader Khieu Samphan's intention to reopen his Phnom Penh-based
office which has been deserted since the faction's representatives cut off ties with
UNTAC and boycotted the election. It was reported that Khieu Samphan would return
to the capital in September.
Prince Sihanouk reaffirmed that for the sake of national reconciliation, the Khmer
Rouge could rejoin the society as an opposition party and could run their own television,
radio or newspaper with full freedom of expression, but stressed that they would
not be part of the transitional coalition or the new government which will function
along a parliamentary principles.
The election-winning Prince Ranariddh of FUNCINPEC and SOC leader Hun Sen, whose
People's Party came in second, have finalized the formation of an interim administration
to be run by 60 ministers and deputy ministers, including representatives of the
Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party and the single-seat Molinaka Party.
Both Ranariddh and Hun Sen will serve as co-presidents and ministers of defense,
interior and national security.
The composition of the new cabinet was based on a formula proposed by Cambodian People's
Party and agreed to by FUNCINPEC.
The joint interim administration needs the approval of two thirds of the national
assembly's 120 members who will meet in the first week of July.
Addressing the gathering, the 72-year-old former monarch was optimistic about bringing
liberal democracy to his fragile nation and peace which he said could reach 98 percent,
'if all parties follow my advice.'
"The composition of the new cabinet doesn't matter much...so long as the 'ants
no longer die while the elephants are fighting'," Sihanouk said.
An old lady yelled at the prince "May Your King Father live for 200 years."