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CPP muster party response to KR

CPP muster party response to KR

FEARING that the Khmer Rouge split is a ruse, and loathe to deal with senior KR leaders

they have despised and fought for years, parts of Hun Sen's CPP appear to be trying

to put the brakes on any settlement with the splinter group.

"The government is weakening with the Khmer Rouge issue, and only the Khmer

Rouge is strengthening," warned one Phnom Penh CPP official unhappy at the pace

of negotiations.

The most conspicuous attempt to urge caution - and rein in Hun Sen's apparent willingness

to accept the KR splitters - came in a Sept 1 opinion piece in the daily Rasmei Kampuchea

newspaper.

Chang Song, an adviser to party president and National Assembly chairman Chea Sim,

put his name to the article whose title translated to "The Tactics of Negotiation."

While urging Phnom Penh not to be so implacable as to thwart the prospect of national

reconciliation, Song urged the government to pay heed to both the Cambodian and international

communities' desire for justice for those KR implicated in genocide under Pol Pot.

With that in mind, Song wrote that Ieng Sary should prove that his breakaway from

the KR "hardline" was genuine and not merely a trick.

In order to do so, Sary must prove that Pol Pot was no longer leading the KR. Also,

troops loyal to Sary should hand over their arms to the government, be prepared to

join the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and help fight the remaining guerrilla hardliners.

Song went further, saying that Sary should help arrange for millions of dollars in

KR timber and gem-mining profits to be transfered to the government.

In return, he offered, Sary and his followers would earn the forgiveness of the Cambodian

people and could form a political party.

However, the existing law outlawing the KR should remain, he said, so recalcitrant

forces could still be punished.

The opinion piece summed up what CPP sources claim to be increasing concern within

the party at the rapidly unfolding KR situation and Hun Sen's handling of it.

Another senior CPP source, who would not be named, outlined a detailed analysis that

the KR splintering was an elaborate "Trojan horse" charade.

Questioning how the decades-old movement had split apart with remarkably little fighting

between the two factions, he suggested the ruse had begun with the "story of

Pol Pot's death" and culminated with "Ieng Sary becoming a peace-lover."

The KR, aiming to take advantage of the near-collapse of the government coalition,

hoped to align with Funcinpec and Sam Rainsy's Khmer Nation Party and the Son Sann-side

of the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party.

Such "united front" tactics had been used by the KR in the 1960s, and again

in the 1980s during the anti-Vietnamese resistence. The KR hoped to place some of

its members within the legal, democratic political system while still maintaining

a military backbone in the jungle.

The official said that even if the KR split was genuine, much of CPP did not want

to do deals with the likes of Ieng Sary.

The CPP were happy to accept defections from lower ranks but not to excuse senior

leaders who held high-ranking positions under the Pol Pot regime, he said.

Political observers agreed that Hun Sen faced a major hurdle within his own party,

with one suggesting that the KR breakaway was marking the "unravelling of the

CPP" while another said: "This is not CPP party policy... Hun Sen is doing

this himself."

What remains unclear is the Second Prime Minister's strategy. One party official

suggested he had initially tried to "steal the show", and potential political

glory, from what he believed would be major KR defections.

Other observers - who, in the words of one, noted that "dealing with the Khmer

Rouge goes against every fibre of Hun Sen's being" - suggested he was playing

a divide and rule strategy.

Noting his outspoken support for Ieng Sary and initial claims of mass defections

from the KR, they suggested he had been trying to provoke a major fight between the

rebel factions.

If so, the plan appeared to have failed and he had backed himself in a corner.

"It's a dangerous game and the stakes are high," said one Western observer.

"He curses Sam Rainsy as being Khmer Rouge, and then turns around and says exactly

what Rainsy always called for.

"Ieng Sary does raise some eyebrows - and definitely turn some stomaches - within

the CPP."

Meanwhile, CPP officials in Banteay Meanchey - who appeared strongly loyal to Hun

Sen but concerned at Funcinpec's domination of talks with the KR splinter group -

also urged a slower, careful approach to negotiations.

"The negotiations are like rice. People want to eat well-cooked rice, not badly-cooked

rice," said the province's CPP-appointed police commissioner, Sok Saret.

"If we press for the negotiations to produce the quickest result, it is similar

to pressuring the people to eat badly-cooked rice."

Proclaiming that the police were closely monitoring talks with the KR for security

reasons, he said: "In the view of the provincial police forces, the Khmer Rouge

are still not clear on the issue of national reconciliation.

"In my personal view, I think that if the Khmer Rouge breakaway really believe

in national reconciliation, they should abandon their arms and mix up with other

people."

He said that real negotiations had not yet begun, and nothing would be finalized

unless agreed upon by the top leaders of the government.

"I have to tell you that the Khmer Rouge are hardline people. They will never

submit to a weak partner... only a strong partner.

"Those who are strong is the Royal government and also the strong political

party which the Khmer Rouge fought for many years and was never able to defeat,"

he said of CPP.

"The Khmer Rouge are very strong-headed. Believe me, if they think that they

can defeat the Royal government, they will not give in to negotiations."

Saret, who expressed great admiration for Hun Sen, made it plain that his concern

was primarily about Funcinpec's acceptance of the KR.

A senior CPP official in Sisophon, Chuong Prasoeuth, expressed similar views, saying:

"My own personal view is that there is not yet any sign that real peace is approaching.

"The question is whether other people wholeheartedly have peace or not? If they

do want real peace, they will try to do everything for peace.

"I was happy when those Khmer Rounge announced they broke away. This is a good

sign...but I think we have got to be cautious when dealing with the Khmer Rouge.

"When they took my brother and sister away to be killed [during the Pol Pot

regime], they told them they were taking them to study...That's an example of the

Khmer Rouge and why we need to be cautious."

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