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Former leader rejects KR peace offer

Former leader rejects KR peace offer

The radical Khmer Rouge (KR) guerrilla faction should not be trusted with an

advisory government role and should be crushed on the battlefield, veteran

Cambodian politician and former communist leader, Pen Sovann said on Jan

11.

"We offer many concessions to the KR but still they refuse to join

us-concerning their hard-line, we should crush them," said Sovann, adding,

"Yes-military action in favor of political negotiation."

Pen Sovann, a

veteran Cambodian politician, was appointed communist party chief following the

defeat of Pol Pot's brutal KR regime by an invading Vietnamese army in

1979.

His posts included the positions of General Secretary of the PRK

(Peoples Revolutionary Party of Kampuchea), Prime Minister and Defense

minister.

But in December 1981, in circumstances that are still unclear,

Sovann was purged and replaced by President Heng Samrin.

To accommodate

KR demands for an advisory role by appointing their senior leaders into cabinet

positions would lead to the resumption of hostilities, he warned.

"During

the KR regime all their top leaders hands are soaked with peoples' blood so

should we ask the people to welcome them?" he replied.

Cambodia's

coalition government has offered cabinet position to "acceptable" KR officials

in exchange for an immediate cease-fire, an opening of their zones of control

and demobilization of the insurgent army.

Nominal KR chief, Khieu Samphan

said, there should be no preconditions and accused the former Phnom Penh

government of trying to hijack the peace negotiations.

After he was

ousted in 1981, Sovann said, he was held under house arrest in Hanoi for 10

years and 20 days before being freed and allowed to return to Cambodia in

1992.

The 59 year-old politician has since led a quiet life in

semi-retirement in the southern province of Takeo but has recently indicated he

would like to return to the limelight of national politics.

Sovann told

reporters that he was removed from office by his Vietnamese sponsors for

advocating free market reforms and "betraying communist doctrine."

In a

90 minute free-ranging question and answer session, he warned of the dangers of

Thai culture and economic power subverting war-battered Cambodia.

"I want

to tell you this is a most serious problem for Cambodia-it is more dangerous

than (war) weapons," he said.

He also admitted that he had sought to join

the Cambodian People Party-the political wing of the former Vietnamese-installed

government but his application had been refused.

Reviewing the period

that he had passed since the United Nations-organized the May elections, Sovann

noted dryly that some politicians had "failed to deliver their

promises."

Asked to clarify the remark, he replied: "They (politicians)

promised to have national reconciliation, peace and prosperity."

He

questioned whether all politicians and government officials were following their

orders from First Prime Minister, Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

Sovann

advised politicians not to become arrogant and usurp power for their own

use.

"The government is like a boat and the people are the water-if there

is no water then the boat can't move."-Reuters

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