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Ranariddh Grounded

Ranariddh Grounded

Three days after the State of Cambodia pledged to respect rival factions' freedom

of movement, a FUNCINPEC aircraft carrying Prince Norodom Ranariddh from his faction's

zone in Ampil was barred from landing at Pochentong airport.

FUNCINPEC officials said the plane was due to arrive at Phnom Penh airport at 9:30

a.m, on May 1, but was forced to turn back after SOC airport officials refused to

grant the royalist faction leader permission to land.

Well-informed SOC sources acknowledged the faction had agreed to allow FUNCINPEC

free use of the Ampil-Phnom Penh air route during a Apr. 29 meeting of the Supreme

National Council. But on the following Saturday Prince Norodom Chakrapong, the estranged

son of Prince Norodom Sihanouk and brother of Ranariddh, intervened and refused to

let the plane land. Chakrapong, a former-FUNCINPEC military commander defected to

SOC and was put in charge of Cambodian aviation.

In campaign rallies last month Chakrapong, a vice premier vowed he would not allow

any FUNCINPEC aircraft to land at Pochentong.

The incident came two weeks after a private helicopter carrying Prince Ranariddh

and his followers to a campaign rally in Kampong Cham province was prevented from

taking off. UNTAC intervened and offered Prince Ranariddh and his entouragee a flight

on a U.N. helicopter. This decision led the SOC government to criticize UNTAC of

bias.

"The U.N. aircraft are for U.N. personnel. If it lets one SNC member use U.N.

aircraft it must let all the SNC members use U.N. aircraft," government spokesman

Khieu Kanharith told a press conference.

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