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Sirivudh declares his return soon

Sirivudh declares his return soon

E XILED Prince and former Funcinpec secretary-general Norodom Sirivudh has reaffirmed

his decision to return to Cambodia "soon", despite fears his doing so may

deepen the rift within the country's ruling coalition.

Speaking from Paris Nov 25, Sirivudh said his continued exile was an example of the

hypocrisy which was a hallmark of Cambodian politics.

"We have to keep things in perspective - if the Royal Government can amnesty

Ieng Sary in the name of national reconciliation, then why not me?" he said.

Sirivudh was exiled to France late last year after being accused of plotting to kill

second Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was later sentenced in absentia to ten years in

jail.

His trail was subsequently labeled "farcical and purely political" by human

rights observers.

Sirivudh said he wanted to keep the exact date of his return to Cambodia a secret,

but he had no intention of changing his plans.

"I will be talking to my support committees in France about the situation in

Cambodia before deciding on a final date," he said. "I will approach the

French government on 29 Nov to inform them of my intention to return. I will also

be talking to Amnesty International and US Senator John McCain."

Sirivudh went on to say Cambodia's future depended on better relations between the

two ruling parties under the framework of the rule of law.

"What we see now is a Cambodia which is still ruled by fear...the country is

run by those who have enough guns to enforce their will.

"We don't need personal games - we need to approach the Nation's problems through

consensus. We need proper debate, we need to get the National Assembly working properly."

Sirivudh said the world had a big role to play in Cambodia's future and should not

be afraid to criticize the government.

"Donors should not make their aid conditional because Cambodia is a sovereign

nation, but they should join the debate," he said.

"They should say, sure, we want to help, but you should get serious about the

rule of law. They should say where is your electoral law, where is your independent

judiciary, where is your strong, independent National Assembly?"

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