The self-confessed leader of the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, Chhun Yasith, on Wednesday denied any involvement in an alleged Siem Reap bomb plot and maintained that the CFF would attempt to overthrow the government before the 2003 national elections.
“The CFF [was] not involved in the recent bombs in Siem Reap at all,” Chhun Yasith said in an e-mail sent from the US, where he lives. “There are going to be more bombs which [the government] blames on the CFF in the near future before the election.”
Earlier, the authorities had implicated but not directly blamed the CFF for the TNT explosives found in Siem Reap town more than two weeks ago. The police have so far arrested seven people for their alleged part in the bomb plot, including Sok Nou Son, a military official and Funcinpec member. Military officials said at the time of the arrest that Sok Nou Son was connected to the brother of Chhun Yasith.
“I do not have any brothers in Cambodia; I have only a brother in the US named Reth Chhun,” Chhun Yasith stated. “This is a trick by [Prime Minister] Hun Sen to arrest the suspicious ones who belong to any opposing parties such as Funcinpec or Sam Rainsy.”
Chhun Yasith placed the entire blame for the bomb incident on the government and the ruling CPP, calling the alleged plan a “dirty game” perpetrated by the CPP in order to crack down on dissidents.
Khieu Kanharith, secretary of state of the Ministry of Information and the spokesman for the CPP, dismissed Chhun Yasith’s accusations that the bomb plan was orchestrated by the CPP. He said that it was still too early to say who, officially, is behind the Siem Reap bombs.
The CFF rebel group led a failed coup against the government on Nov 24, 2000, that left at least four people dead. Chhun Yasith, the leader of the US-based CFF, was convicted in absentia and sentenced to spend life in prison, but he remains at large in Long Beach, California.
He has said several times, including on Wednesday, that he will again attempt to overthrow the government. On Wednesday, he said the CFF will target military installations and the houses of the “communist leader,” and will lead this attack sometime before the July 27 national elections.
Chhun Yasith also rejected long-standing rumors that he is associated with the ruling party, saying that the CFF is “not a puppet of Hun Sen.”
“Some politicians like Sam Rainsy speculated that CFF is involved with the CPP, or the CPP is behind [the rebel group]. This is not true. [I am] always against the communist dictators from the beginning to the end,” he said. “My father was beheaded by communists; why should I work for them?”