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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - The text of Jennar's Jan 16 article

The text of Jennar's Jan 16 article

The Post publishes here the full unedited text of Mr Jennar's January 16 article,

which was first re-published in Reasmey Kampuchea.

The Election, Europe and The American Journalists. Phnom Penh, Friday 16 January

1998. Today, the European Union announced that it will contribute ECU 9.5 million

(approximately US$10.5 million) for the preparation and carrying out of free and

fair election in Cambodia.

The EU will found three activities:

1) training of Cambodian election officials and potential electors to ensure the

timely registration of all eligible voters, provision of registration cards to each

eligible elector and dissemination of information on registration (ECU 8.3 million).

2) presence of independent observers to the electoral process, who can also provide

legal advice as required, right from the registration of electors until the installation

of successful candidates into office (ECU 1.1 million).

3) training of a core group of local journalists to ensure significant and valid

coverage of all opinions (ECU 0.1 million).

THE EU RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SUSPEND ITS ACTIVITIES ON THE ELECTORAL REGISTER IF

OTHER FACTORS WHICH WOULD PERMIT THE HOLDING OF FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS ARE NOT ALSO

PUT IN PLACE.

During the press conference, American journalists, acting like spokespersons of their

government and not like free and fair observers, tried to explain that the European

Union was making a big shift in the policy of the international community by not

making the return of prince Norodom Ranariddh a condition for the support of the

electoral process.

It was clearly answered by Mr G. Morgan, the Director of the EU Department for South-East

Asia that there are different approaches about the case of prince Ranariddh and not

only one.

He underlined that the one expressed by those journalists was the American policy

and not the policy of "the international community".

He said also that the EU wants to see the prince participating in the election, but

the issue of his return and his participation is first of all his own decision.

By focusing on the case of one politician, the American journalists tried to explain

that the European Union was not concerned by the July crisis, the summary executions

which followed and by the worries expressed by political opponents and human rights

activists about the freedom and the fairness of the coming election.

It has been precisely said that the UE condemns all human rights abuses and wants

free and fair election. It has been repeated that the EU gives itself the right to

withdraw from the electoral process if its own evaluation of the situation - and,

I underline, not the orders coming from Washington DC or unfair and unaccurate reports

from journalists - imposes such decision.

Once again American journalists show that they are one-sided. That the kind of journalism

they are implementing is based on sensationalism and manicheism. They need a good

guy and a bad guy (that's the reason the coverage of the Hun Sen-Sam Rainsy meeting

- one of the most important political events in 1997 - was so poor; journalists do

not like to peaceful resolution; they live from conflicts). They need to have someone

to support and someone to blame.

It is amaising to see people endorsing the policy of a country which imposed so many

dictatorships in Central and South America and everywhere in the world and giving

now lessons of democracy.

The USA failed to drive Hun Sen out of power through UNTAC. After the July events

and the failure to kill Hun Sen (a death too quickly announced by prince Ranariddh's

Director of Cabinet), they want to punish him for surviving. Hun Sen: a child compared

with the best friends of the USA: Videla, Pinochet, Kabila.

The issue of prince Ranariddh is complex. He ruled the country between 1993 and mid

1997. He bears responsibility for the decision he made or for the decision he failed

to take. He was far from acting like the democratic ruler he is presented today by

the American press. He made strong statements explaining that "democracy is

not applicable in Cambodia" (5 August 1995).

He must face the consequences of the decisions he took. In front of a Court or in

front of the voters. Or both.

At least one of the charges against him is undisputable: the 1997 negociations with

the Khmer Rouge without the agreement of the Government. In 1996 both Prime Ministers

agreed to negotiate with the Khmer Rouge of the West (Pailin). In 1997, prince Ranariddh

was alone negociating with Anglong Veng Khmer Rouge. His partner made clear many

times his complete disapprobation of such negociations. Doing that - an initiative

clearly condemned by a King not blinded like his son by stupid and dangerous military

advisers - prince Ranariddh violated the 1993 agreement creating the coalition (all

the decisions request consensus) and the 5 July law outlawing the Khmer Rouge.

With regard to the other charges, it is the work of a Court acting in full independence

to decide. It remains to be proved by the Government if such a fair trial is possible.

But, it is impossible to block the future of a country because one man or a group

of people want to prevent the citizen making a democratic choice. The future of the

country is more important than the future of an individual.

Which other option is given by those who refuse to make the coming electoral process

as fair and free as possible?

Do they want Cambodia moving to a second Burma or do they accept that the evolution

to a genuine democracy is a step by step process?

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