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'It appears my generals were right'

'It appears my generals were right'

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

of Cambodia.

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

peace.

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.

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