CONSCRIPTION and troop movements toward the military frontlines of O'Smach and Samlot
appear to be setting the stage for what is widely expected to be a dry season offensive.
"We have sent troops to the north and northwest. Under our government masterplan
we need to clear up our territory by March, before the [scheduled May] election,"
Ministry of Defense official Gen Khem Sophan told Reuters Nov 16.
Sophan was confident that 10,000 government troops will be able to stamp out opposition
forces - which he numbered at fewer than 3,000 - around the country.
An advisor to Funcinpec resistance chief Nhek Bun Chhay claimed last week that Phnom
Penh had recently sent 1,000 troops and seven tanks in preparation for another offensive
to try to capture O'Smach.
Bun Chhay, in a Nov 18 statement which denied that his forces had received "financial
or military assistance" from the Khmer Rouge, also spoke of a fresh government
"It is very interesting that at a time when the United Nations arranges for
the return of exiled politicians... Hun Sen's regime implements a masterplan to liquidate
the legal Royal Cambodian Armed Forces by sending reinforcements to the border area
and in so doing prepares to continue the civil war in Cambodia," said Bun Chhay,
who maintains that his forces are the legal Cambodian army.
Meanwhile, resistance forces were reported to have launched attacks against O'Baichoan,
on the Thai border about 20km northeast of the Banteay Meanchey trading town of Poipet,
in recent days. The resistance claimed to have recaptured the area, which was lost
to the government after brief fighting in late July.