OLITICAL infighting, corruption, and a weakly led and ill-trained Cambodian
army could lead to the return to power of the Khmer Rouge, King Norodom Sihanouk
warned on May 12.
Sihanouk said the Khmer Rouge could not be trusted and
had not changed since their brutal rule in the 1970s.
"They are the same.
They have not changed their leadership, their philosophy or their policy. They
want always to retake power and make Kampuchea a very backward country - pushing
Kampuchea back to the Stone Age, and they are going to fight us until they come
into Phnom Penh to take power like on the 17th of April, 1975 - it is their
ultimate aim," he told reporters at the Royal Palace.
Sihanouk said the
Khmer Rouge's leader was still Pol Pot. "I know them - they still have the same
direction, same leadership. Pol Pot, number one; Ieng Sary, number two Nuon
Chea, the former chief of assembly; and also Son Sen, the commander in chief of
the Khmer Rouge army - they are the same.
Sihanouk also likened the
rebel's senior northern commander, Ta Mok, to Nazi Germany's SS chief, Heinrich
"And Ta Mok, I call him the Himmler of the regime - they are the
same," he said.
The one-legged Ta Mok, also known by his nickname "The
Butcher" is held responsible by UN officials for the massacres of Vietnamese
civilians before last May's elections.
King Sihanouk said he feared that
national reconciliation would never be achieved and he reiterated an earlier
call for friendly Western countries such as France, the United States and
Australia to help in training a modern army as well as provide military
"The only way to save Cambodia is by helping the royal
government and the royal army and by training the soldiers and by giving them
lessons in behavior," he said.
Sihanouk said the lack of basic training
among the soldiers was one reason the rebel HQ at Pailin was recaptured easily
Pailin was first captured by the government army but a KR
counterattack on April 18 easily pushed out the government force.
addition to training, the army needed weapons, planes, helicopters, tanks,
ambulances and lorries," Sihanouk said.
He dismissed claims he had been
involved in political meddling and sought to retake power.
- I have no future because I'm going to die very soon,"he said.
said his health was deteriorating badly and his doctors had advised him to
return to Beijing for cancer treatment as quickly as possible.
possible for me to retake power. Even if more and more Cambodians ... ask me to
retake power - I have refused."
The King was unhappy with the political
infighting, especially within his own family and among the Funcinpec Party which
"There is a civil war between the Khmer Rouge and royal armed
forces, civil war within Funcinpec, civil war everywhere," he
Sihanouk said Foreign Minister Prince Norodom Sirivudh had
competing interests with First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh. A
scheduled visit to Britain and Sweden by Prince Sirivudh was canceled because of
political squabbling, he said.
The King added: "I present my apologies to
the United Nations. We did not deserve $3 billion [in peacekeeping costs] - our
behavior is so bad, so bad."
He said he was not leaving because he
"lacked courage" and he would be prepared to return "if the nation needs