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Sirivudh vows to return home one day

Sirivudh vows to return home one day

EXILED Prince Norodom Sirivudh says as far as he is concerned he is Funcinpec member

and an MP, "temporarily" abroad and awaiting his return to Cambodia.

"I don't think I can just sit and fish on the Seine River," Sirivudh told

the Post from Paris this week.

"I would like to be clear that I cannot just stay quiet. I have suffered for

20 years to participate in democracy in Cambodia."

Sirivudh said he had written to National Assembly president Chea Sim asking that

his Parliamentary seat not be replaced by another Funcinpec MP.

"I consider myself as a member of Funcinpec still, as an MP still [but] I have

some difficulties in being in Cambodia at the moment.

"My departure is just temporary. Judicially, I'm a free man, innocent until

judgment is passed. I'm still innocent and I hope that my court case will be a fair

trial."

Sirivudh said he had two problems. The first was the legal one - and whether he would

be tried in absentia on charges of attempting to overthrow the government - and the

other a "political one."

"I prepare myself to face these two areas."

Sirivudh said his lawyers would strongly defend him if his case went to trial and,

if he did not, there was nothing which should stop his return to Cambodia.

"They cannot forbid me to come back if there is no trial. I'm innocent, I'm

a free man with a Cambodian passport, I'm ready to serve the Cambodian nation."

Sirivudh - exiled in November under a deal broked by the King, after allegedly threatening

to kill Second Prime Minister Hun Sen - said: "My real wish is to go back home."

"I continue to proclaim my innocence...I don't want to kill anyone, as you well

know. I'm always against the military option; democracy, the free press - that is

my struggle."

Sirivudh said he intended to keep contact with academics, perhaps giving some lectures

or writing papers, as well as overseas Khmers.

Sirivudh - whose exile deal included a promise not to engage in politics - maintained

his actions would not be political.

"It's not political to be against corruption, to be against drugs, against the

prostitution of minors, the non-respect for the environment. Every Cambodian has

a duty to think about morality."

In response to a question, he said he supported the ideas of dissident politician

Sam Rainsy but would not join his party.

"Maybe one day if I am not in Funcinpec I can create my own party. But it's

premature to say that. But I support Sam Rainsy's ideas - the ideas of Sam Rainsy

should be supported by everybody."

On his exile arranged by the King, Sirivudh said: "Please underline this, I

would like to express my profound gratitude to his Majesty the King. He saved my

life."

Asked whether he regretted making private comments which may be used as evidence

against him, Sirivudh said: "What I said or did not say is not important.

"What is important is that Article 40 of the Constitution does not allow anybody

to tape anybody... this point must not be used in evidence," he said of an alleged

tape-recording of him threatening to kill Hun Sen.

"The thing that is important to me is what perception the Cambodian people have

about me, about my own innocence - that they keep in their own minds who is the bad

guy and who is the good guy.

"Even abroad now, I can help Cambodia and the Cambodian people. One day I will

talk to them directly."

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