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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Intrigue, squabbles... and bodyguards

Intrigue, squabbles... and bodyguards

SAM Rainsy will neither confirm nor deny that King Norodom Sihanouk has provided

personal security for him.

Sources say non-Khmer bodyguards, apparently

North Korean, have been seen with Rainsy on at least one occasion

recently.

King Sihanouk uses bodyguards provided by North

Korea.

Rainsy, asked about the matter during at interview at his Phnom

Penh home, replied: "They are not with me, living in this house."

Pressed

to comment, he said: "Yes, the King has expressed concern about my security. Has

he taken any special measures? I do not know. I cannot confirm, I cannot deny

this.

"I know that many people are watching me closely and they belong to

different organizations, even those opposing me."

It has been widely

reported that the First Prime Minister, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, recently made

what he later termed "a joke" that Rainsy's wife would soon be a

widow.

Meanwhile, Rainsy has confirmed that he choose to be out of

Cambodia when the National Assembly voted on the 1995 Budget on Dec 30 after

Ranariddh "gently but insistently" asked him not to be present.

Rainsy is

adamant that he did not leave the country under threat to his life, but reliable

sources maintain that he has told Funcinpec MPs that it was because he was

threatened.

Two BLDP MPs, Kem Sokha and Son Chhay - both regular critics

of the government - said this week that MPs were operating in an increasing

climate of threats and intimidation.

They cited First Prime Minister

Prince Norodom Ranariddh's naming of them "enemies of the government" in a

public speech recently.

They also referred to a Dec 31 speech by Second

Prime Minister Hun Sen in which he warned that people who opposed the government

- particularly in regard to seeking foreign military aid - faced demonstrations

at their houses by the military and police.

"The government will find it

difficult to stop them because they are armed with guns," Hun Sen said in the

speech.

Son Chhay - who said had recently received an anonymous telephone

threat and been followed by two uniformed men on motorcycles - said he had also

been openly threatened by military officials including Co-Defense Minister Tea

Chamrath.

"To threaten a MP verbally that way is not acceptable," he

said.

"Under a free democracy any kind of threat is unacceptable,

especially from top leaders."

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