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RCAF re-integration stalls

RCAF re-integration stalls

RE-INTEGRATION of resistance and ex-Khmer Rouge troops into RCAF has been delayed

following disputes over the number of troops involved and a shortage of funds to

carry out the program.

RCAF now says that about 1,700 soldiers in the Samlot region will be re-integrated

on Feb 8. Recently-defected Khmer Rouge soldiers in the Anlong Veng area, numbering

around 2,000, will be accepted on Feb 9. No clear plan yet exists for resistance

forces from O'Smach and other border areas, but the integration may be held at Banteay

Chmar temple Feb 11 or 12.

RCAF Deputy Commander-in-Chief General Meas Sophea said that records indicate only

4,545 resistance soldiers are eligible for reintegration but resistance leaders say

they have 10,491 troops they want to see back with the government, including 547

policemen.

"The resistance forces accept only about 4,000 and on this case General Khan

Savoeun has also agreed to the amount," Sophea said.

A similar problem has arisen with the former KR troops who remain along border areas.

The government is prepared to bring in about 1,500 troops as opposed to the more

than 4,000 that the Anlong Veng leadership would like to see put on the RCAF payroll.

General Khan Savoeun said it is not yet clear how many soldiers who are on the RCAF

list fled after the coup and how many are new soldiers who joined the resistance

later.

But Savoeun said he believed that the KR and the resistance should be treated the

same. He said he did not believe it was fair that only ex-RCAF soldiers would be

integrated from the resistance but anyone from the KR would be acceptable.

General Serey Kosal, a former resistance commander and now an advisor to Prince Ranariddh,

told the Post he had a force of around 600 in the three provinces of Kampong Chhnang,

Kampong Cham and Siem Reap. He suggested to RCAF general staff setting up a re-integration

process but had not received a response yet.

"I am very sceptical about this matter. I found it is very strange about the

delay of integration. It seems that there is a mystery. The people who come down

for the verifying process ride in luxury vehicles but the people who show up encounter

many difficulties as they have to walk on foot a long distance and they do not have

enough food to eat when they assemble so they have to find food from outside to eat

by themselves. Therefore, at the verification process, some people have gone missing.

These tricks may be made by the people at the lower levels. The higher levels should

take this issue seriously. When they do not find their names on the integration list,

they give me a hard time," he said.

However, a military source said that there were some limits on who the government

would accept from the KR.

He said that troops had to be over 18 years old and have a weapon in hand. Also,

elderly or amputee applicants would be refused.

The military official said that the delay in integration was due to a shortage of

cash.

"To do anything we need to have money. If we don't have money how can we do

it" he said.

But, Gen Meas Sophea said that budget requirements for integration were not yet estimated

but that RCAF had to buy clothes, food and other items.

"Integration has to be done even if we are short of fund," he said.

Concerning cut logs in Anlong Veng, Sophea said that a request had been sent to the

Council of Ministers to secure permission to sell the wood, not as uncut logs but

as processed wood. He added that the revenues would be used to build schools, hospitals,

district offices and for rehabilitating infrastructure.

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