Aide Says Former PM to Run in 2003 Elections

Former prime minister Pen Sovann plans to compete in the 2003 national elections, an official from his party said.

Pen Sovann, a member of Cam­bodia’s top leadership from 1979 to 1981, when he was sent to pris­on in Hanoi, now lives in Takeo province and heads the Cam­bodia National Sustaining Party.

“He is mentally and physically as strong as ever,” wrote party official Neang Savun, who lives in the US state of Washington.

“He is ready to compete in [the] 2003 Cambodian national election. We are a government opposition party.”

Neang Savun helped Pen So­vann, 66, write an autobiography, “Pen Sovann and the Funda­mental Reason of Cambodia’s History,” and hosted a book re­lease party in the US Friday.

The book will be available in English and Khmer, but is not due here until December, Neang Savun said.

Pen Sovann spent a year in the US writing the book before re­turning to Cambodia in Feb­ruary, Neang Savun said.

Pen Sovann started his fighting career with the Issarak independence movement and joined the Communist Party of Indochina in 1951. For three years he was a bodyguard and secretary to Ta Mok, later a feared Khmer Rouge military commander.

He attended cadre training school in Vietnam—where he had lived since 1974—and was brought to power after the 1979 invasion that overthrew the Pol Pot regime. He became secretary-general of the Cambodian Revolutionary Party and vice-president in charge of national defense.

Pen Sovann spent six months as head of state in 1981 before he was arrested. He spent seven years in a Hanoi jail and three under house arrest.


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