A FRESH upsurge in fighting is the likely result of the Pyongyang peace talks,
said Co-Premier Prince Norodom Ranariddh, after the Royal Government and the
Khmer Rouge failed to agree on a ceasefire.
"I think the Royal Government
does not have any choice but to fight the Khmer Rouge, with or without the help
and assistance from friendly countries," said Prince Ranariddh on May 31,
striking a gloomy chord after returning from the talks at the King's residence
in North Korea,
The Royal Government agreed to a ceasefire call from His
Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk prior to the start of the talks on May 27. The
government said the guns should fall silent on 15 June. But the communique
signed by the two sides after the talks agreed only on setting up a "round-table
commission" to meet at the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh on June 15.
the 15 June we are going to talk [but] I'm not hopeful for my country, for the
success," said Prince Ranariddh.
"The Khmer Rouge Khieu Samphan flatly
rejected the [ceasefire] proposal put forward by His Majesty the King and
supported, endorsed by the Royal Government.
"I think now it becomes a
sacred duty for the Royal Government to defend the security of the
Interior Minister You Hockry told the Post the commission would
consist of four delegates from the Khmer Rouge, two from the National Assembly
and two from the government. He also said he was not optimistic about the
commission producing any real progress towards peace.
The Minister said
the commission would hold several meetings.
In Pyongyang the Khmer Rouge
countered the ceasefire call by proposing it should be monitored by observers
from five foreign countries chosen from a list of 10. This condition was
regarded as unrealistic by government officials and foreign observers
"The proposal of the 10 countries and pick five, if the Khmer
Rouge don't respect their signature at the 1991 Paris Agreement, how can they
respect those 10 countries, This is a show-piece proposal," Information Ministry
spokesman Sieng La Presse told the Post.
"And look at those countries,
they don't have money to send their troops out, who is going to pay for them?"
added La Presse referring to the Khmer Rouge list which included countries such
as Papua New Guinea, Fiji and others with little or no peacekeeping experience
and shallow public purses.
Government officials were equally dismissive
of a Khmer Rouge proposal at the talks for setting up a "minimum political
In a statement made on May 27, Khmer Rouge President Khieu
Samphan referred to it as "the basis for the formation of the national
government and the unified national army."
But Prince Ranariddh rejected
it as an attack on the government.
"The Khmer Rouge said no ceasefire
until we accept their so-called 'minimal political program' [which] is nothing
else but aimed at destroying the legal and legitimate institutions of Cambodia,"
he told reporters after returning to Phnom Penh.
He added: "I have to say
I feel very sad for my country that we have lost the opportunity of resolving
the problem through peaceful means."
A post-talks statement signed by the
Phnom Penh government representatives of National Assembly President Chea Sim,
and Co-Premiers Prince Ranariddh and Hun Sen also strongly criticized the KR
According to La Presse the statement said: "...These
roundtable talks....it is an undeniable fact that the Khmer Rouge revealed their
intention not to seek a solution by political means but [is] their tactic of
Despite Prince Ranariddh's rhetoric of
increased fighting there have been conflicting signals from the government over
the last few weeks on how to deal with the KR.
Some government leaders
have said that military means may not be the best way to combat the Khmer Rouge
guerrillas, a stance which many diplomats and foreign observers in Phnom Penh
have long supported.
"It's a widely held belief that the government
cannot beat the Khmer Rouge militarily for the simple reason that they cannot
defeat to the last man every member of the Khmer Rouge," said one diplomat,
echoing the classical views of the difficulty in defeating a guerrilla
Even Prince Ranarridh, who talked of war in the wake of the talks,
was quoted as saying in a speech last month: "The real issue to tackle the Khmer
Rouge problem is not weapons, I was talking about development."
Pyongyang the Prince said "the ball is not anymore in our side," implying that
the next move was up to the Khmer Rouge.