P rince Norodom Ranariddh spoke to Tricia Fitzgerald in Bangkok, July 19. The
following are edited highlights.
His departure from Cambodia the day before fighting erupted July 5
Everyone knew about the coup preparations, because they moved a lot of troops from
Prey Veng, Svay Rieng, Takeo, Kampong Speu, Kampong Cham ... we knew it very well
and on the fourth of July at 6am General Nhek Bun Chhay, General Serey Kosal and
the late General Ho Sok came to my house and asked me to leave Cambodia. They said
there will be a coup and if you don't leave maybe you will be captured and knowing
that you are in Phnom Penh we will not have a free hand to retaliate.
I told myself that in case the victory goes to Hun Sen, we do need someone to speak
out, to explain to the world what happened inside Cambodia and maybe to lead any
resistance against Hun Sen. It appears that my generals were right.
I was not prepared to leave Cambodia... I left with one suit, one pair of shoes.
Only Generals Nhek Bun Chhay, Ho Sok and Serey Kosal sent me off.
I decided at the last moment to bring my daughter along with me and I asked my son
to accompany me, but he didn't believe me and preferred to stay with his girlfriend.
He is now safe and sound in Singapore.
The Funcinpec people who remain in Cambodia
Except [for] some people who are now joining the CPP, I got many messages from
many people in Funcinpec who said they are still very loyal to me and the party and
that they are happy to see me alive and that thanks to my presence outside they are
now organizing a resistance throughout the country.
Not only do we have our political structures around the country, but we have in four
years built up military and political strength and, although some of them have been
killed and captured, we still have a lot of Funcinpec cells hidden in many parts
My message to them is please do resist. If you can please don't stay in your villages
and towns, disappear if possible with your arms and do not surrender to them. Otherwise
you will be assassinated, like those who were killed without any trial, without any
ability to defend themselves.
...We have to make a clear distinction between those who are in Phnom Penh and who,
because of threats and use of force, believe we should stay safe for the time being
but still hope we will liberate our homeland in the future. Others who are really
traitors [are those] who were already in Bangkok and decided to go back. Ung Huot
talks about peace but in fact he wanted simply to be Prime Minister.
But to be Prime Minister with Hun Sen will not be very easy and in particular to
be a puppet of Hun Sen will be a nightmare for Ung Huot.
His advice to Ung Huot
I think Hun Sen, after eating the cherry, will spit out the pip... I hope those like
Ung Huot and [Defense Minister] Tea Chamrath look everyday in the mirror, and I wish
them every success.
Armed resistance in the Northwest
I do not for the time being call anyone to take arms and resist. For the time being
[I] at least prefer a political and diplomatic struggle. Cambodians deserve to have
But what I mean is don't let Hun Sen's people disarm you, preferably go back to the
jungle, disappear with your arms. If you let them disarm you will be killed like
other patriots and former leaders of our ANKI army. My advice is survival first and
afterwards maybe join the resistance.
In the western and northern side we have enough troops, but we should not resist
because we are not as numerous [as CPP] and we do not have enough ammunition. So
it would be crazy to try to resist in holding main cities and towns. On the contrary
we should start practicing guerrilla warfare.
You will see soon there will be resistance throughout the country not just in the
north, even in the center and south as well.
The prospect of seeking Khmer Rouge help
I do not seek any help from the Khmer Rouge, but I cannot prevent the Khmer Rouge
from taking their own initiative of fighting against Hun Sen or calling him a puppet
of Vietnam. They saw through the coup, [and] Vietnam's hand in toppling the legitimate
prime minister of the country.
The role of Asean in mediating a settlement
We should not talk about this Asean formula for the time being as Hun Sen has clearly
rejected any mediation from Asean, but Asean has let me know it cannot accept any
government coming out from the coup. Asean asked me to appoint someone I could trust
[as Prime Minister]. I feel very sorry Ung Huot has not stayed with us, otherwise
I could have nominated Ung Huot. But it's too late for Ung Huot, as Ung Huot is no
longer a Funcinpec member or a Ranariddh man, he is a creature of Hun Sen.
The next elections
We should not take part in any election organized by Hun Sen alone, without the participation
of the world community, the UN, EU, of Asean et cetera - at the least as foreign
observers - it will not be a credible election. It is premature to talk about my
return and my campaign. Hun Sen said I am not courageous, that I have to return to
Phnom Penh and face a trial, but I am not crazy! Who trusts Hun Sen's tribunal?
... Hun Sen is a murderous Prime Minister, I think we should first try Hun Sen.
For the time being I do not believe it will be possible to hold any free and fair
election by May 1998.
Allegations that he provoked Hun Sen's military action
I did not build up military strength. On the contrary I proposed in writing to Hun
Sen that we reduce the number of our military to only two companies. I proposed to
send all the tanks back to RCAF. I was the only one who stressed military and police
should be neutral.
I did my best to avoid the coup. When Hun Sen accused me of bringing Khmer Rouge
troops into Phnom Penh I proposed a bi-partite commission with three Funcinpec and
three CPP to investigate the places where the Khmer Rouge were supposed to be.
The return of the King to Cambodia
I do not believe the King will go back soon according to what I have learnt from
Beijing directly and from Asean. It appears HM the King for the time being is not
ready to go back home. I hope the King will not go back and provide some sort of
legitimacy to Phnom Penh.