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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - King lashes out bitterly ahead of vote

King lashes out bitterly ahead of vote

ON the last day of the election campaign period, King Norodom Sihanouk issued a statement

tinged with bitterness that asserted the Khmer Rouge was "more powerful than

ever". The July 25 letter, entitled 'A scary prospect for Cambodia', barely

received a mention in local media despite being released in French, English and Khmer.

The King wrote that most people who read the text would conclude "the very old

and senile Sihanouk has become completely mad as to imagine, for the future of Cambodia,

an odiously wacky 'scenario'" in which he would be held responsible for the

Killing Fields, because the Khmer Rouge was reunited within the current government.

He listed a string of events that he felt showed the Khmer Rouge was still in power

within the government: the amnesties granted to senior Khmer Rouge cadres, the reintegration

of the movement's soldiers, and the stripping of the country's natural resources.

Added to that are the, "high ranking positions given to great killers of royalist-Sihanoukists,

their launch towards legislative power and executive power after a very predictable

victory on the July 27 2003 elections".

He also wrote bitterly about the deaths of Funcinpec officials in the 1997 coup:

"The inexpressible atrocities suffered by Generals (Ho Sok, Kruch Yoeum), Colonels

and other royalist-Sihanoukist officers, in 1997, prove that there is no difference

between pro-Hanoi KR and pro-Peking KR as far as inhuman cruelty is concerned."

The letter concluded: "The future will show even more clearly that Pol Pot's

Cambodia is alive and well. It is immortal ... And the 'Khmer Satan' was solely and

is solely Sihanouk. Go to Hell, Sihanouk!"

Despite the timing of the statement, the King's official biographer, Julio Jeldres,

told the Post he did not think it was an attempt by

the monarch to influence the outcome of the election.

"What His Majesty is trying to do is draw attention to the fact that the killers

of the Khmer people remain free and now are acceptable to be candidates for high

posts ... and that the rule of impunity reigns in Cambodia, where people get murdered,

mostly by the KR pro-Hanoi, and their killers are never apprehended," Jeldres

wrote in an email.

The King sent a second letter the same day that attempted to clarify some of his

statements. He firmly prohibited political parties from exploiting his texts to meet

their ends, and also stated that the Khmer translation contained errors, such as

adding the words "excrement" and "urine".

In the follow-up letter he also wrote that he understood he would be condemned if

in his everyday texts there were historical or other inaccuracies.

At least one issue raised in his first letter is on its way to being resolved. The

King seemed to point a finger at the Documentation Center of Cambodia (DC-Cam) by

stating that "this famous so-called anti-KR Research Center, funded by Uncle

Sam" meant to accuse him of responsibility for the KR regime.

But Youk Chhang, DC-Cam's director, told the Post on July 30 that the King had sent

him a follow-up letter on July 29 expressing gratitude to the organization. Chhang

added that he would soon be granted an audience with the King.

"Their Majesties have been very supportive to our research for memory and justice,"

said Chhang. "I have the highest respects for Their Majesties whom I value as

the custodians and guarantors of the rights provided to Cambodians under the Constitution."



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