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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rights Meeting Held Amid Political Attacks

Rights Meeting Held Amid Political Attacks

(AP) - Politicians and U.N. officials told a symposium on human rights in Cambodia

last month that a series of politically motivated attacks proves the country is not

ready for U.N.-sponsored elections.

"We're still suffering as opposition parties," said Ieng Mouly, secretary-general

of the Buddhist Liberal Democratic party. "We're still suffering from intimidation,

from harassment."

Since the start of voter registration in October, U.N. officials have reported about

a dozen grenade and shooting attacks on opposition politicians, their homes or their


No blame has been established, and the Phnom Penh regime, which controls about 80

percent of the country, denies that it is responsible.

The U.N. mission in Cambodia sponsored the three-day symposium of about 40 international

experts and activists from Nov. 30 through Dec. 2 to promote human rights here after

the elections.

"Respect for human rights is a precondition for holding the election,"

Dennis McNamara, U.N. Human Rights director in Cambodia, told the participants from

Asia, the United States and Europe. "We have some way to go before we reach


The U.N. Security Council, however, insists that elections be held as scheduled to

avoid spending more money on what, at U.S. $1.8 billion, is the most expensive peacekeeping

operation ever.

The three factions at the symposium-including the SOC and the non-communist BLDP

and FUNCINPEC-said they too wanted to stick to the May deadline. But they said U.N.

officials must improve the political situation before the voting.

"The U.N. Security Council should take action in order to find a solution,"

said FUNCINPEC's Kan Mann. But neither he nor the other party representatives could

say what that action should be.

Cambodia's fourth faction, the Khmer Rouge, has proposed that U.N. officials give

the factions more power over the SOC administration to end the harassment. The guerrilla

group says it will not cooperate with the U.N. or even attend such U.N.-sponsored

events as the symposium until its proposal is accepted.

The guerrilla group's demand has been rejected because that arrangement was not part

of the peace accord the four factions signed last year.



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