The following interview with Khieu Samphan, president of the Partie of Democratic
Kampuchea, was conducted at the Khmer Rouge compound in Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh Post: What's your assessment of the status of the peace process, one year
after the signing of the Paris peace accords?
Khieu Samphan: Two key agreements have yet to be implemented. First, [there's] no
control or verification of the withdrawal of Vietnamese forces from Cambodia. Secondly,
agreements on the role of the Supreme National Council (SNC) have not been implemented.
We know that these two issues are interrelated. We have to have the SNC play a role;
if the SNC has no role to play UNTAC will cooperate with the Phnom Penh regime. That
is why UNTAC uses the phrase "pragmatic necessity," which means UNTAC relies
on the Phnom Penh regime to implement the Paris accords.
How can UNTAC exercise the control and verification of the withdrawal of Vietnamese
forces under these circumstances? Actually the Vietnamese forces, soldiers, officers,
advisors and experts are the ones who maintain this regime in place. These Vietnamese
forces are now in place to maintain the puppet army, secret police, and administrative
If UNTAC relies on the Phnom Penh regime, UNTAC will not be able to find these forces,
so this is the cause of the current deadlock. If we do not tackle the root cause
of the current deadlock, we will not be able to break this deadlock.
Post: UNTAC may decide to hold the elections without the participation of the
Partie of Democratic Kampuchea. What will it take for the PDK to join in the electoral
Khieu: As far as the election is concerned, if they have a plan to hold the election
without the PDK (Partie of Democratic Kam-puchea), is this in accordance with the
Paris agreements? What will the result of such elections be? The Vietnamese forces
are still in Cambodia.
Such elections would offer Cambodia to the Vietnamese; this [all] the Cambodian people
in Cambodia and living abroad will not accept.
So the question is whether UNTAC is going to hold the election without the participation
of the PDK or implement the Paris agreement in its entirety. Such elections without
the participation of the PDK run counter to the Paris agreement and we will oppose
Post: How do you assess the economic and security situation in Cambodia at present?
Khieu Samphan: Now everybody is talking about the corruption of [the Phnom Penh]
regime being on the increase, and the riel has lost its value. The devaluation of
the riel has created problems within all strata of the Cambodian people-between the
poor and the Phnom Penh regime, state employees and the Phnom Penh regime, and soldiers
of their own regime.
When UNTAC is trying to come to the rescue of the riel, this will only create problems
between the Cambodian people and UNTAC.
[With] corruption and the devaluation of the riel spreading, this is a situation
that creates more problems.
The Cambodian people are suffering. What will their reaction be to a situation where
they see no hope? Anarchy perhaps, but the situation is they oppose the Vietnamese
Let me turn to a specific problem: banditry. There are indeed elements not under
any control. There are elements of the Phnom Penh army they cannot control. But [also],
there is organized banditry by the Vietnamese and the Phnom Penh party.
How can we resolve this problem of banditry if the SNC continues to be denied its
role? If the SNC is given its role, the Cambodian people [would] join the SNC in
opposing banditry. Otherwise it will increase.
I think in any country where you have a government that is not supported, you will
not be able to control banditry.
Post: How do you respond to charges that the Khmer Rouge blew up two bridges in
Kompong Thom last month and is launching a dry season offensive?
Khieu Samphan: These accusations are not true.
Last year during the 14th dry season, during the whole dry season, the Vietnamese
launched military operations against our forces-now they are doing the same in Battambang,
Pursat, route 6, 21, 7.
During the 15th dry season there might be complicated problems. As the Vietnamese
launch military attacks against our forces we will be compelled to fight back.
Post: Do you think that the peace accords are in danger of collapsing, returning
Cambodia to a state of civil war?
Khieu Samphan: There is no peace now-the situation is the same as before [the
signing of the Paris accords].
If they [UNTAC] have no political objective to get rid of the PDK, they will implement
the Paris accords on the role of the SNC. Other measures to try to avoid giving the
role to the SNC would not resolve the problem, and would be tantamount to trying
to get rid of the PDK.
I am speaking very frankly here; if they try to do this, it is an abandonment of
the Paris accords. We will not accept this. We should not underestimate or overlook
the reaction of the Cambodian people.
I have told Akashi very clearly, if you try to paint a situation [of optimism that
the peace plan is succeeding], you won't change the situation. I also try to convey
that I am trying to cooperate with UNTAC.
I agree with you that we are on very dangerous ground. We are at an unpredictable
juncture. I cannot say I am optimistic or not, [but] whoever does not implement the
Paris agreements will encounter problems. They will increase the problems themselves.
There might be the possibility of anarchy by Cambodian people who might explode against
the Vietnamese settlers themselves because of land stolen from the Cambodian people.
To sum up, UNTAC alone cannot control and verify the withdrawal of the Vietnamese
forces and resolve the problem of crime in the cities, because of lack of support
from the Cambodian people.
So far, [UNTAC] has tried to help the Phnom Penh party. As to when they will see
that what they are doing is not working, I hope it will be soon. We hope that UNTAC
will [realize that] before it is too late.