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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN's envoy awaits border watch request

UN's envoy awaits border watch request

C O-PREMIERS Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Samdech Hun Sen have yet to formally

request a strengthening of the UN's military presence in Cambodia, said

Secretary-General's representative Benny Widyono.

In the wake of the

government's embarrassing withdrawal from Pailin, the government verbally asked

the UN to extend and expand its military mandate in the country, to allow

monitoring of borders.

Both premiers alluded that it was Thai support

for the Khmer Rouge which was instrumental in allowing the guerrillas to retake

their nominal base on the northwestern border.

Widyono said that he

forwarded the premiers' verbal request to the UN headquarters in New York, which

asked for a formal request from the government.

"That request has not

yet been received, though we may get it in the next few days," Widyono told the

Post on May 2.

He added: "There is no decision on renewing or changing

the UN military mandate in Cambodia. Since there has been no formal written

request from the Cambodian government for UN help, we don't know whether the UN

will expand its military presence in Cambodia."

The 20-strong UN

Military Liaison Team has a limited mandate which expires on May


Widyono said: "In a 16 April meeting at the Council of Ministers,

Prince Ranariddh and Samdech Hun Sen requested the extension of the UN Military

Liaison Team's (UNMLT) mandate by six months, and an expansion of their mandate

to include Part Three of the Paris Peace Agreements.

"Article Two of

this part of the Paris Peace Agreements deals with the responsibility of the

signatory countries with respect to Cambodian sovereingty and territorial

integrity. The two Prime Ministers never mentioned Thailand by name.

"Later clarifications indicated that what the Co-Prime Ministers

intended was monitoring of all of Cambodian borders, and the sea. But as far as

the UN is concerned there is no official complaint. It might be worth pointing

out that the UN never had the obligation under the Paris Peace Agreements to

guarantee the borders of Cambodia." Widyono added.

Widyono said that His

Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk supports the request, and that the King believes

that even a 20-man military force could be of some value.

The UN official

said: "I do know that today the UN is in financial crisis. The Secretary General

has told the member states that $247 million is owed on peacekeeping missions


"Any decision on a new military mandate will be taken by the

Security Council, and will be taken in light of the current financial situation

in the UN and recent unexpected military and security developments in


"Further, the request of the two Prime Ministers will have to

be clarified.

"The Article referred to in their verbal request is very

broad and contains commitments by the member states [of the UN] to respect the

territory, sovereignty and independence of Cambodia. The UN is now waiting for

specifications from the Royal Government."

The Thai government reacted

to the co-premiers' request by saying that no UN observers would be allowed on

Thai territory.

When Widyono was asked for his own view of the request,

he said: "I am neither for nor against the request, but I want to make clear

that I work for the United Nations.

"I am not an advocate, I cannot be a

lobbyist for the Cambodian government on this or any other issue. But I am for

anything that contributes to peace and national reconciliation in


Widyono complained he had been mis-quoted as saying that he is

against the proposal.

He said: "I am not against anything. I have a lot

of bosses in New York. The decision is up to the the Security Council, when they

receive a formal request from the Royal Government, they will make their




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