Three days after the State of Cambodia pledged to respect rival factions' freedom
of movement, a FUNCINPEC aircraft carrying Prince Norodom Ranariddh from his faction's
zone in Ampil was barred from landing at Pochentong airport.
FUNCINPEC officials said the plane was due to arrive at Phnom Penh airport at 9:30
a.m, on May 1, but was forced to turn back after SOC airport officials refused to
grant the royalist faction leader permission to land.
Well-informed SOC sources acknowledged the faction had agreed to allow FUNCINPEC
free use of the Ampil-Phnom Penh air route during a Apr. 29 meeting of the Supreme
National Council. But on the following Saturday Prince Norodom Chakrapong, the estranged
son of Prince Norodom Sihanouk and brother of Ranariddh, intervened and refused to
let the plane land. Chakrapong, a former-FUNCINPEC military commander defected to
SOC and was put in charge of Cambodian aviation.
In campaign rallies last month Chakrapong, a vice premier vowed he would not allow
any FUNCINPEC aircraft to land at Pochentong.
The incident came two weeks after a private helicopter carrying Prince Ranariddh
and his followers to a campaign rally in Kampong Cham province was prevented from
taking off. UNTAC intervened and offered Prince Ranariddh and his entouragee a flight
on a U.N. helicopter. This decision led the SOC government to criticize UNTAC of
"The U.N. aircraft are for U.N. personnel. If it lets one SNC member use U.N.
aircraft it must let all the SNC members use U.N. aircraft," government spokesman
Khieu Kanharith told a press conference.