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On the Campaign Trail

On the Campaign Trail

Recent attacks on political party members and U.N. electoral teams prompt-ed UNTAC

Chief Yasushi Akashi on Nov. 9 to call on all factions to "exercise strict control

over their armed forces and take effective measures to stop all forms of intimidation,

harassment or killing of the civilian population."

In addition, UNTAC has notified provincial officials that they will be held personally

responsible for any staff under their supervision who impede investigations of acts

of political violence or intimidation, said UNTAC Spokesman Eric Falt.

In the most serious attack on U.N. personnel in Cambodia to date, three electoral

workers were wounded by automatic weapons fire when their vehicle was ambushed on

Nov. 24 in Siem Reap province.

An UNTAC investigation revealed that robbery was the motive of the attack, and not

the fact that the wounded were electoral workers. But coming on the heels of several

other acts of violence towards electoral workers, it cast further doubts on UNTAC's

ability to hold free and fair elections in an environment where guns are everywhere

and rival armies have not demobilized.

"It merely reaffirms the need to act with caution and in full cooperation with

the civilian police and military components of UNTAC," said Electoral Component

Chief Reginald Austin, who vowed that voter registration would continue despite the

violence.

In an incident on Nov. 16 a registration team in Stung Treng was detained by 10 Khmer

Rouge soldiers, who demanded that the voter registration process be stopped and sent

the electoral workers packing.

In addition, rockets have landed dangerously near registration centers in Sankor

village in Kompong Thom and in Roussey Keo district north of Phnom Penh.

Grenade Attacks

Political parties operating in the provinces continue to be plagued by attacks on

their members and offices. In Battambang city unidentified assailants recently threw

hand grenades at a restaurant owned by a local FUNCINPEC official and at a party

worker in Phum Bavel in Battambang.

Then on Nov. 18, two grenades were thrown at the Battambang FUNCINPEC office, injuring

seven people. On Nov. 23 in Svay Rieng a grenade was thrown into the house of a FUNCINPEC

party agent, seriously injuring his wife and three children.

"All of these attacks in all likelihood were politically motivated," said

Falt, who said UNTAC was investigating the incidents.

On Nov. 27 two assailants on motorcycles threw a grenade in front of the Victory

Hotel in Battambang which houses the Liaison Officers for ANKI (Prince Ranariddh's

forces), NADK (Khmer Rouge) and KPNLF. The explosion damaged a vehicle used by the

NADK representative.

The Battambang and Svay Rieng incidents followed the murder of Buddhist Liberal Democratic

Party member Ath Sadan in Prey Veng on Nov. 2 and an attack on the BLDP's offices

in Koh Kong on Nov. 8.

UNTAC has determined that Sadan's murder, as well as the Aug. 19 murder of a BLDP

member in Kompong Som, were both politically motivated.

Reacting to the incidents, State of Cambodia (SOC) Spokesperson Uch Kim An said on

Nov. 24: "We regret that there have been some reported acts of violence against

political workers, parties and offices in the provinces. At the same time we're very

disappointed and disturbed that UNTAC in its Nov. 19 statement assumed that these

acts of violence were committed by [SOC] authorities. It's not our policy to advocate

violence against established political parties and offices."

KR Starts New Party

Meanwhile UNTAC reports that the pace of voter registration has continued to exceed

their expectations, with more than 2.8 million voters -out of an estimated 5 million

eligible voters-registered to date. Of those registrations 0.5 percent have been

challenged by political party agents posted at registration sites.

Several new parties have provisionally registered with UNTAC recently, bring the

total to 18: the Free Development Republican Party led by Ted Ngoy; the Khmer Neutral

Party (Buor Hell), and the Naktaorsou Khmer Moulinaka for Freedom (Prum Neakareach).

On Nov. 30 the Khmer Rouge issued a statement from Pailin announcing the formation

of the "National Unity of Cambodia Party," with Khieu Samphan listed as

president and Son Sen as vice president. So far the new party has not requested to

be provisionally registered with UNTAC.

"The National Unity of Cambodia Party will participate in the elections only

when the October 1991 Paris Agreement is correctly and fully implemented," the

statement read, "particularly when all categories of Vietnamese forces of aggression

have withdrawn from Cambodia."

In response, Akashi released a statement inviting the NUCP to register as a political

party and participate fully in the electoral process, while reminding them that if

they join the process and accept the electoral law, they must to allow other parties

to open offices and campaign in their areas as well as allow UNTAC full access to

their zones.

Despite the Khmer Rouge's refusal to meet the Nov. 15 deadline to join the peace

process, demobilize their troops, and abide by the accords they signed, the U.N.

Security Council has stopped short of calling for sanctions to be imposed against

the group.

Instead the Security Council is considering a series of economic measures, including

the prohibition of oil imports and timber exports from Khmer Rouge-controlled zones.

U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali has recommended against confrontational

tactics with the guerrilla group.

"I have heretofore favored patient diplomacy and I continue to believe that

this is the best means of getting peace process back on track," he said.

The Security Council resolution would give the Khmer Rouge until Jan. 31 to allow

the U.N. to register voters in Khmer Rouge zones, or risk being excluded from the

process.

"I'm disappointed that UNTAC has again moved the goal post-the deadline for

registration," said SOC Spokesperson Uch Kim On, who added that the Security

Council's measures were "soft" and would have little impact.

"But even if there's no immediate effect it doesn't mean we shouldn't impose

sanctions," he added.
- Sara Colm

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