Ving Norodom Sihanouk issued a statement March 21 denying any involvement with the
Khmer Rouge regime. It was the King's first public comment on KR-related matters
since the UN pulled out of negotiations over a tribunal on February 8.
"I did not join the Khmer Rouge," the King wrote. "The reality is
that the history of the Khmer Rouge regime involved Khieu Samphan, Hu Nim, and Hu
Youn. The Khmer Rouge killed people and officials loyal to the King."
He said he had not started the war and returned to Cambodia after the Khmer Rouge
victory over Lon Nol in 1975. In March 1976, when back in Phnom Penh, a Khmer Rouge
delegation requested he take on the role of head of state and chairman of Democratic
Kampuchea. He declined and chose to share the lives and suffering of the people.
"Khieu Samphan, Nuon Chea and Ieng Sary are still alive," he wrote. "They
can bear witness to that."
Funcinpec lawmaker Nan Sy told the Post that the King's statement was a message to
the international community and the UN that he was not involved with the KR.
Nan Sy explained that statement was also designed to encourage moves towards restarting
UN-Cambodian talks in order to ensure any future tribunal met international standards.
On March 20, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced a limit of three months to resume negotiations.
"The amount of time we will wait has limits," said Hun Sen, "but we
don't want anyone walking out. The door is still open."
He said the government was prepared to negotiate on the cooperation framework - known
as the Memorandum of Understanding - with the UN, but could not allow it to contradict
Hun Sen said the UN made a mistake in quitting negotiations and pinning the blame
on him. He said the UN's action had embarrassed it. His comments were in response
to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, who on March 12 called on the international community
to stop pressuring him to resume talk. He suggested they speak to the Cambodian government
to resolve the impasse.
If the UN did not take part, Hun Sen said, the trial would be governed by Cambodian
law. The President of the National Assembly, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, admitted to
reporters March 26 that Cambodia's judicial system was not credible.
"Everyone knows that when it comes to justice in our country, it is not fair,"
said Ranariddh. "If [the trial] goes ahead without the UN, Cambodians will have
no confidence that it will be just and transparent."
Nan Sy said he would ask Funcinpec lawmakers to write a letter to Prince Ranariddh
inviting Sok An, the government's lead negotiator on the KR tribunal, to clarify
the situation once the National Assembly was again in session in April.
"We have had many discussions with groups of Funcinpec lawmakers to put this
question on the KR issue to the government," said Nan Sy. "It is our duty
to follow this up with the government."