Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - No Progress on Talks with KR

No Progress on Talks with KR

No Progress on Talks with KR

According to King Norodom Sihanouk, Khieu Samphan, nominal leader of the Khmer Rouge

"accepted to give up peacefully" Pailin and the Preah Vihear temples, if

the Khmer Rouge are given advisory positions in the Royal Government. "But what

positions? And what would be the power of the advisors? That is the main point,"

the King told the Phnom Penh Post in an interview on Oct. 3.

Sihanouk said there was already agreement in principle between the government and

the Khmer Rouge on the advisor issue. "But you know, they are terrible guys

so they will ask for positions very influential, to control everything - the police,

the army; to supervise all activities: financial, economic, political, even foreign

affairs," the King said.

The King added that if the demands are too much for the Royal Government, negotiations

would fail. And in the event of failure, there will be a police operation to take

back Pailin and other sanctuaries.

The Preah Vihear temple, Sihanouk said, would be the last act, the last problem to

be resolved. And that would depend on the goodwill of Thailand. Chuckling, he refrained

from commenting about the sticky situation with Thailand, except to say that "if

Thailand decides to abandon the Khmer Rouge, the Khmer Rouge will naturally give

up Preah Vihear."

Khieu Samphan arrived in Phnom Penh last Friday and gave a short speech to news-hungry

journalists. When one of them asked why the DK forces are still fighting the government

troops, he briefly responded 'we are only protecting ourselves'. Then he slipped

into a Peugeot bearing blue-painted SNC licence plates and was driven off.

Samphan came to the capital for the sole purpose of meeting with the newly-crowned

King. On Friday evening at the palace, according to the King, Khieu Samphan formally

recognized Sihanouk as King, the monarchy and the constitution. But he avoided recognizing

the government led by Prince Ranariddh and Hun Sen. "It is a stumbling block,"

said the King.

The King added that it was Ranariddh and Hun Sen who set conditions for a roundtable

discussion in mid-November and many of them had been met. "Even if I am neutral

referee, I must say the Royal Government is right to say to the Khmer Rouge 'before

having the roundtable discussions you must recognize the constitution, you must recognize

officially the Royal Government, you must put an end to your propaganda against us

as so-called puppets of Vietnamese and propaganda saying we are still a colony of

Vietnam.' The Khmer Rouge must also fold all their officers and soldiers into the

Royal army and give up being the Khmer Rouge. To become a legal political party the

Khmer Rouge must give up its army and autonomous zones," Sihanouk added.

The meeting was one of a series designed to ensure Cambo-dia's sovereignty and territorial

integrity by bringing the intransigent Khmer Rouge back to the national community.

The Khmer Rouge who opted out of the peace process and boycotted the elections, still

control 20 percent of the country's territory, primarily in western Cambodia where

they reap enormous profits from gem mining and timber.

The Khmer Rouge said they sought no government post but would not alter their demand

for an advisory role and formation of national armed forces that include the NADK.

They hope that the 'shuttle diplomacy' of the Kingwill bridge the gap between the

guerrillas and the government. They said they 'want to have a real cease-fire,' and

for that goal to be achieved they proposed to set up a committee to study the details

and plans for control and verification.

The newly appointed government and the Khmer Rouge have been jockeying back and forth

in a bid to make a breakthrough before the round table meetings, although they agree

on national unity, in principle.

According to a letter from co-premiers Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen sent

from New York to Khieu Samphan on Sept. 30, the holding of the dialogues depends

on the Khmer Rouge attitude towards the new government, their willingness to integrate

themselves and open up territory under their control.

"It is not a pre-condition, rather a confidence the legitimate royal government

considers itself obliged to fulfill for the country, the nation and the people who

are the owners of the ballots," they said.

In a statement they issued on Oct. 2, the Khmer Rouge said that to raise such conditions,

whether voluntarily or not, was to oppose national reconciliation, and peace...was

against the Monarchy and the King, and would sap the constitution.

Khmer Rouge have been asked to stop military operations and hand over their controlled

zone to the King. But they are seeking to share a military position in the national

army, fearing a lack of decision-making power if they agree to give in to the government.

"To achieve genuine national reconciliation, there must be balance of forces

and political equilibrium," the statement said.

"If one party has no force at all or not enough force while the other maintains

all categories of its forces...national reconciliation can not be materialized, and

peace, independence and sovereignty can not be restored, and let alone the reconstruction

of the country," they claimed in reference to the former Hun Sen government

whose officials still maintain primary control over the armed forces.

Ek Sereywath, vice-minister of information, commented that the Khmer Rouge strategy

was to play for time while continuing their propaganda campaign in a bid to reorganize

and strengthen their forces. The Khmer Rouge have suffered over 2,000 defections

in the last six weeks.

"What they want is to have a role in the government and to maintain their own

structure of armed forces," he said.

Khieu Samphan did not go further to recognize the government, and perhaps would not

do so, because of the new cabinet composition maintaining his bitter foes-former

Vietnamese installed government-who had threatened the country's stability after

they emerged second in the elections, forcing a coalition with the winning FUNCINPEC


The promulgation of the constitution three weeks ago has allowed the government to

advance its right in resolving any issue within the framework of law.

On the other hand, the Supreme National Council in which the Khmer Rouge used to

be reckoned with as a legitimate party under the terms of the UN Peace Accords has

now been dissolved.

"If they [KR] are just a political party and do not have not military and control

zones, they could curse anything as a political party. Those who have the right to

criticize us are the other 16 parties who have taken part in the elections. Right

now the KR is not a legal political party, but an armed guerrilla faction which is

illegal," Hun Sen, second co-premier of the Royal Government, has said.

"However strongly they hate us [Cambodian People's Party], we have been elected

by the people. We have legality and privilege," he added, warning the Khmer

Rouge, "Cambodia is an indivisible state and we give no ability to any political

or military faction to hold any part of the country."

Hun Sen also said he expected only a one percent chance of success for the roundtable


Khieu Samphan, calling his meeting with King Sihanouk successful, headed off last

Saturday empty-handed. King Sihanouk departed on Monday to receive medical treatment

in Beijing. Prince Ranariddh and Hun Sen will resume their task of forming the new

cabinet when they return from the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Ministry

insiders say there may be some surprises when the new cabinet is announced. Both

Sin Song and Prince Chakrapong had reportedly left for Beijing with the King.

One government source, who refused to be identified, said that Sin Song, one of the

organizers of the post-election secessionist movement, would be given back his post

as Minister of Interior.


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