Second Prime Minister Hun Sen on Sunday asked King Norodom Sihanouk to deny amnesties to resistance leaders who have been fighting for the King’s son, deposed first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
Later Sunday, the King deferred to Hun Sen, apparently revealing more obstacles to Prince Ranariddh’s participation in elections scheduled for July.
“I will not make any decision contrary to your ideas,” the King wrote in a letter to Hun Sen.
Hun Sen wrote in his letter to the King that the prince must sever ties with resistance leaders such as former RCAF first deputy chief of general staff Nhiek Bun Chhay, and former Battambang province first deputy governor General Serey Kosal, or risk being barred in the July elections.
Under article 6 of the law on political parties, it is illegal for political parties to maintain armies in control of autonomous zones, the second premier noted.
“[Prince Ranariddh] has to clearly announce that they are guerrillas,” Hun Sen wrote.
Representatives of the prince have long denied their military forces in the north and west are an autonomous army. “They are not the prince’s private army, they belong to the RCAF,” Kong Vibol, the prince’s spokesman in Bangkok, said Sunday.
Not granting amnesty to commanders of these military units also raises questions about the success of a four-point Japanese peace plan created to help facilitate the staging of free and fair elections. The plan stipulates that the prince must sever ties with the outlawed Khmer Rouge and reintegrate resistance forces with the government army.
But just last week, Serey Kosal, commander of resistance forces in the vicinity of Samlot in southern Battambang province, warned that fighting would continue along the Thai border if he and other resistance figures were not permitted to freely return to mainstream society.
A cease-fire has been in effect since Feb 27, but sporadic fighting has been reported since then.
Serey Kosal, Nhiek Bun Chhay, Thach Suong, the chief of Ranariddh’s bodyguard unit, and the late general Chao Sambath, a senior intelligence officer, were convicted in absentia in trials earlier this month.
Last Friday, the wives of Ranariddh’s military backers wrote to the King requesting amnesties.
Additionally, the wife of CPP General Sin Song apparently also wrote the King asking the monarch to pardon her husband. Sin Song, who was the minister of national security during the period of the State of Cambodia government in the early 1990s, fled Cambodia after being accused in 1993 of plotting to overthrow the government.
Hun Sen, in his letter, did not reveal his position on amnesty for Sin Song. (Additional reporting by Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
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