AN apparent bid by Ieng Sary's breakaway Khmer Rouge to form their own autonomous
zone has drawn a sharp response from Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.
"Ieng Sary is not entitled to create any third force within Cambodia,"
Hun Sen declared Sept 27, alleging that Sary was breaching the Constitution by conducting
Asked whether he was prepared to fight Sary's forces if necessary, Hun Sen said:
"Cambodia has to be united at any price we have to pay for that."
If the peace talks failed, there was "the other way" to succeed, he said,
but added that he believed a peaceful solution was possible.
Earlier, the breakaway KR decided to form their own administrative structure - complete
with army, police, and finance, information and foreign affairs departments.
Hun Sen and co-Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh responded with a Sept 26 order
for government officials to prepare for a prompt integration of the KR faction into
the national administration.
Without setting any deadline, they instructed officials to organize control of the
breakaway area and collect statistics of civilians, soldiers and weapons. Troops
and guns were to be put under Ministry of National Defense authority, and all soldiers
had to wear Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) uniforms.
Ieng Sary's personal secretary, Long Norin, said the Prime Ministers' order appeared
to be a "strong reaction".
"It's just like a wedding - when you force a man and woman to get married, that's
not good," he said of the order for a quick integration of the KR faction.
"We...need to have more discussion among the leadership and the people in order
for integration, national reconciliation and peace to be smoothly achieved,"
Norin told the Post by telephone from Sary's stronghold of Phnom Malai Oct 1.
The breakaway group had earlier decided to officially set up their own administration
under the umbrella of Sary's new Democratic National Union Movement (DNUM).
In a two-page handwritten statement, marked confidential, they outlined their
decisions, which included, in part, to:
- "Create" the province of Pailin - comprising all the breakaway region,
including Phnom Malai - with Pailin town as its capital;
- Establish the "Army of the Democratic National Union Movement", abandoning
the name of the National Army of Democratic Kampuchea (the KR);
- Establish a police force to "ensure security and social order";
- Organize elections of village and commune chiefs;
- Create an economic/finance branch to "consider seeking finance to support
activities" of DNUM, as well as a social affairs branch, an information branch
and a "foreign liaison committee";
- Open up the area for local people to do business, in a manner which respected
the "laws, rules and regulations and other circulars" of DNUM, which would
permit the "practice of democracy but prohibit anarchy";
- Form associations representing women, farmers, handicapped soldiers, etc;
- Prepare a DNUM congress to be held in October or November.
The statement said the decisions were taken at a three-day meeting of cadre from
nine KR divisions - which have broken away either in whole or in part - held Sept
13-15 and chaired by Sary.
The statement, which was unsigned, was dated Sept 16, the day before King Norodom
Sihanouk agreed to the Prime Ministers' request to grant an amnesty to Sary.
The statement was sent to Funcinpec General Nhek Bun Chhay, a key negotiator with
the Sary faction, along with a brief letter from Long Norin dated Sept 18.
Norin, the newly-appointed Secretary-General of DNUM and a long-time aide to Sary,
told the Post that the move was "not intended to create any autonomous zone
at all". He added that: "We understand that Cambodia is only one, the Royal
Government is only one."
DNUM did not want to endanger peace or national reconciliation, but "integration
is not that easy...because we stopped fighting each other less than two months ago."
Norin said that an "entire integration is better than a partial one" and
the faction's soldiers had not yet put on government army uniforms because "we
have to have more meetings to explain to our people.
"We have a different structure here...and when our people come to a complete
understanding, everything will be sorted out."
Norin confirmed that the breakaway group still wanted at least one army representative
appointed to the General Staff of RCAF, the highest level of the government army.
In their Sept 26 written decision, the Prime Ministers rejected the DNUM statement.
They said that before the city or province of Pailin was created, local government
officials "shall organize control of the administration and the people....with
cooperation from the breakaway group."
Hun Sen, in a Sept 27 interview with the Post, talked tough to Ieng Sary.
"If he continues to form this secession, it means that he would be tried by
the court and imprisoned for 20 to 30 years or life."
Hun Sen said the government did not want further negotiations with the breakaway
group - it wanted integration as soon as possible.
"It would be a wrong assessment of Ieng Sary if he thinks of a delay - he will
The government was not concerned with what Sary wanted, but would concentrate on
accepting rank-and-file soldiers who wanted to defect, Hun Sen said.
Senior breakaway KR chiefs would be given jobs in RCAF but not at the level of General
Staff. "Politicians" such as Sary would not be given roles in the civil
Hun Sen also said that he doubted that Sary would "fulfill the criteria"
to stand as an candidate in the forthcoming commune and national elections.
The Prime Minister made it plain he did not accept Sary's denial of any guilt for
the crimes of the 1975-79 Khmer Rouge regime, and reiterated that he would support
any future trial of Sary if there was the evidence to support it.
Co-Prime Minister Ranariddh appeared to take a softer tone toward Sary, playing down
any hint of discord.
Ranariddh said Sept 28 that a meeting in Battambang with the breakaway group's negotiators
had been positive, and that they still intended to merge with the government.
Earlier, Ranariddh agreed that some RCAF positions should be given to the breakaway
group, but said that details of how many troops they had needed to given first.
Meanwhile, some 300 KR have defected to the government from bases on the northwest
shore of the Tonle Sap lake, army commanders said Oct 1.
Reuters reported that Seng Huot, their commander, said his troops, from KR Regiment
408, had previously followed Ieng Sary but were not prepared to wait any longer for
him and his military chiefs to join the government.
But Royal army officers said the defectors were not linked to Sary's breakaway forces.
Some of the guerrillas said that recent flooding of their homes had hastened their
decision to defect.