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King warns graft may empower KR

King warns graft may empower KR

P

OLITICAL infighting, corruption, and a weakly led and ill-trained Cambodian

army could lead to the return to power of the Khmer Rouge, King Norodom Sihanouk

warned on May 12.

Sihanouk said the Khmer Rouge could not be trusted and

had not changed since their brutal rule in the 1970s.

"They are the same.

They have not changed their leadership, their philosophy or their policy. They

want always to retake power and make Kampuchea a very backward country - pushing

Kampuchea back to the Stone Age, and they are going to fight us until they come

into Phnom Penh to take power like on the 17th of April, 1975 - it is their

ultimate aim," he told reporters at the Royal Palace.

Sihanouk said the

Khmer Rouge's leader was still Pol Pot. "I know them - they still have the same

direction, same leadership. Pol Pot, number one; Ieng Sary, number two Nuon

Chea, the former chief of assembly; and also Son Sen, the commander in chief of

the Khmer Rouge army - they are the same.

Sihanouk also likened the

rebel's senior northern commander, Ta Mok, to Nazi Germany's SS chief, Heinrich

Himmler.

"And Ta Mok, I call him the Himmler of the regime - they are the

same," he said.

The one-legged Ta Mok, also known by his nickname "The

Butcher" is held responsible by UN officials for the massacres of Vietnamese

civilians before last May's elections.

King Sihanouk said he feared that

national reconciliation would never be achieved and he reiterated an earlier

call for friendly Western countries such as France, the United States and

Australia to help in training a modern army as well as provide military

equipment.

"The only way to save Cambodia is by helping the royal

government and the royal army and by training the soldiers and by giving them

lessons in behavior," he said.

Sihanouk said the lack of basic training

among the soldiers was one reason the rebel HQ at Pailin was recaptured easily

last month.

Pailin was first captured by the government army but a KR

counterattack on April 18 easily pushed out the government force.

In

addition to training, the army needed weapons, planes, helicopters, tanks,

ambulances and lorries," Sihanouk said.

He dismissed claims he had been

involved in political meddling and sought to retake power.

"Old Sihanouk

- I have no future because I'm going to die very soon,"he said.

Sihanouk

said his health was deteriorating badly and his doctors had advised him to

return to Beijing for cancer treatment as quickly as possible.

"It's not

possible for me to retake power. Even if more and more Cambodians ... ask me to

retake power - I have refused."

The King was unhappy with the political

infighting, especially within his own family and among the Funcinpec Party which

he founded.

"There is a civil war between the Khmer Rouge and royal armed

forces, civil war within Funcinpec, civil war everywhere," he

said.

Sihanouk said Foreign Minister Prince Norodom Sirivudh had

competing interests with First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh. A

scheduled visit to Britain and Sweden by Prince Sirivudh was canceled because of

political squabbling, he said.

The King added: "I present my apologies to

the United Nations. We did not deserve $3 billion [in peacekeeping costs] - our

behavior is so bad, so bad."

He said he was not leaving because he

"lacked courage" and he would be prepared to return "if the nation needs

me".-Reuters

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