Officials Dismiss CFF’s Vow to Oust Gov’t

An Interior Ministry official dismissed on Monday threats by the US-based Cambodian Free­dom Fighters that it would renew its struggle against the government.

An invitation sent out last week by the CFF said the group is “preparing our movement for national liberation.”

And an e-mail from CFF leader Chhun Yasith on Sunday said the “CFF is planning ahead, before the next election due date, to overthrow this government.”

But ministry spokesman Sok Phal said on Monday that Chhun Yasith’s imagination was far greater that his ability to topple the government.

“We know well about him. But until now he has no force, no people,” Sok Phal said.

“We will investigate. But we think not to mind when he says things like this,” he said.

Chhun Yasith, an accountant based in Long Beach in the US state of California, emerged from more than a year of silence on Sunday to say that the US Feder­al Bureau of Investigation has not pursued court proceedings against his rebel movement.

The Cambodian government made strong calls last year for Washington to deport Chhun Yasith and other members of the CFF leadership.

But Chhun Yasith said by e-mail that the FBI investigation of the CFF offices in Long Beach had come to nothing, and his mission to topple the government continues.

“FBI never produces any re­ports or decisions, and court proceedings never exist, nothing hap­pened to CFF. CFF opens its office seven days a week,” he said.

Chhun Yasith, who claims responsibility for sending dozens of mostly farmers-cum-CFF-rebels on a suicidal attack on several government offices in Phnom Penh two years ago, wrote on Sunday that his movement has regrouped and recruited new fighters.

“CFF’s agents went to all directions in Thailand and Cambodia to link and prepare those newly recruited ones and remaining [CFF members to] join together,” he said.

Chhun Yasith said support for his rebel group was growing because both Prime Minister Hun Sen and Funcinpec Presi­dent Prince Norodom Ranariddh were losing political credibility.

“Any government or dictators who did not have the support from [the] people, later they will lose,” he said.

Chhun Yasith had maintained a somewhat low profile since the Sept 11 attacks that sparked the US-led “war on terrorism” and a subsequent FBI investigation into CFF rebel activities in Cambodia.

But the office-bound rebel leader re-emerged last week with a ceremony in the US to commemorate the second anniversary of those who died in the November 24, 2000, CFF attack on Phnom Penh.

The attack was followed by a spate of mostly harmless explosions in Phnom Penh.

Hundreds of alleged CFF members were arrested in a police dragnet leading to the imprisonment of almost 100 people.

Human rights workers and politicians said the arrests were targeting opponents of Hun Sen’s CPP, which has led to some suspicion about the CFF’s motives.


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