Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen says he, not Untac, brought peace to Cambodia in 90s

Hun Sen says he, not Untac, brought peace to Cambodia in 90s

French army paratroopers stand at attention as local people watch the ceremony marking the full deployment of French Untac peacekeeping troops in 1992. Stefan Ellis/AFP
French army paratroopers stand at attention as local people watch the ceremony marking the full deployment of French Untac peacekeeping troops in 1992. Stefan Ellis/AFP

Hun Sen says he, not Untac, brought peace to Cambodia in 90s

Three days ahead of the highly politicised January 7 holiday marking the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday slammed the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (Untac) for its alleged failure to bring peace to Cambodia in the 1990s, instead claiming his own efforts had put a stop to warring factions.

But analysts yesterday said the peacekeeping mission, the most ambitious ever undertaken at the time, had brought “unity” to Cambodia by facilitating negotiations between the Khmer Rouge and the government, noting Hun Sen himself acted to ensure many of Untac’s failures.

Untac was established from the beginning of 1992 until September 1993 to bring the Paris Peace Accords, a 1991 document that enshrined multiparty democracy in Cambodia’s political system, into effect.

Speaking at the inauguration of a new Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital building in Phnom Penh, the premier yesterday said the country was still divided when the peacekeeping operation left.

“Untac spent around $2 billion to implement the Peace Paris Agreement, but . . . when Untac withdrew, it left Cambodia with two governments controlling two different parts [of the country],” he said.

Hun Sen added that Untac had “no ability” to enter Khmer Rouge strongholds in Cambodia’s northwest, citing a famous incident where two Khmer Rouge soldiers banned the head, deputy head and commander of Untac from entering the region.

Instead, Hun Sen claimed, peace came when he implemented his “win-win policy” between 1996 and 1998 by integrating Khmer Rouge holdouts into military and government positions. Around the same time, Hun Sen, then second prime minister to Funcinpec’s Prince Norodom Ranariddh, ousted the prince in bloody factional fighting.

Political analyst Meas Nee said the premier did not give enough credit to Untac.

“Like the current government, it had weak points, but . . . if there had been no international pressure, we would not have been able to find a way to sit at the negotiation table,” he said.

Analyst Lao Mong Hay said the remarks were the latest in a string of “anti-UN statements” and were an “insult” to those who had worked on the Paris Peace Accords.

Hun Sen sought to “undermine” and “marginalise” Untac, while at the same time “glorifying” January 7, the date when the Vietnamese army and Khmer Rouge defectors, including Hun Sen, ousted Pol Pot.

Despite some shortcomings of the Untac period, Mong Hay said without it and the peace accords, “Cambodia would continue to fight one another until the last man”.

Mu Sochua, a self-exiled deputy head of the recently dissolved opposition CNRP, said Untac brought “the seeds for democracy” by holding free and fair elections.

“All this is what the CPP is trying to put an end to very rapidly and effectively by taking Cambodia back to a one-party rule of oppression and intolerance,” she said.

Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said the prime minister was deflecting from his political crackdown “because his banning of the CNRP and crackdown on civil society blatantly violates the treaty’s requirement that Cambodia must be a rights respecting, multiparty democracy”.

“Since he doesn’t want Cambodia to go that way, he’s decided to bury the accord under verbal attacks on it and Untac.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Investors’ $14.4M projects approved

    New investments from local and foreign sources continue to pour into Cambodia despite the Covid-19 pandemic remaining a lingering threat to regional and global economies. This comes as the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract between one and 2.9 per cent this

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Rubber exports stretch 17%

    Cambodia exported 97,175 tonnes of natural rubber in the first five months of this year, surging 17 per cent compared to the same period last year as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Khuong Phalla told The Post on Thursday. Phalla,

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting

  • Coffee maker roasted for producing fake product

    The Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee will send a suspect to court on Monday after she allegedly roasted coffee mixed with soybeans and other ingredients, creating a product which could pose a high risk to consumers’ health. On the afternoon of July 2, the

  • Cash handout programme 80% complete

    Minister of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation Vong Soth confirmed on Thursday that the implementation of the Cash Transfer Programme For Poor and Vulnerable Households During Covid-19 had been implemented for more than 80% of the over 560,000 families. The programme was introduced one week ago.

  • Cambodia armed with money laundering laws

    Money laundering will now carry a penalty of up to five years in prison while those convicted of financing terrorists will be jailed for up to 20 years, according to new laws promulgated by King Norodom Sihamoni and seen by The Post on Thursday. Comprising nine

  • Where is Cambodia’s exit strategy that can save the economy?

    With the prospect of being slammed by a double whammy, the government is working on an economic recovery plan to deliver it from Covid-19 and the EU’s partial withdrawal of the Everything But Arms scheme in the next two to three years Cambodia is

  • Schools to be reopened in ‘three stages’

    With guidance from Prime Minister Hun Sen, the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, is in the process of reopening schools in three stages. But no timeline has been set, ministry spokesperson Ros Soveacha said on Thursday. Soveacha said the first stage will be to

  • Kingdom, UN discuss rights

    A year after Cambodia received 198 recommendations from UN member countries, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR-Cambodia) met with the Cambodia Human Rights Committee (CHRC) to discuss following-up on the Kingdom’s third cycle of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and