Prince Berates Democracies

National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh blasted the major democracies Thursday for pushing him to form a coalition government with Prime Minister Hun Sen, a US wire service reported.

“The international community, such as the United States, Japan, France—whom I pinned my hopes on as democratic countries—failed to defend the demo­crats,” the prince told members of his Funcinpec party’s youth league, Associated Press said.

The prince said he felt the international community had abandoned opposition parties after Hun Sen’s CPP won the July 26 elections and claimed he had no choice but to return to Cam­bodia in November to strike a deal with the CPP.

“Japan warned me that if I do not return, the international community will not just abandon you, they will not care about you anymore…Don’t trust [these democratic countries] too much,” the prince was quoted as saying.

The remarks come as international donors meet in Tokyo to discuss allocating aid to Cam­bodia, with Prime Minister Hun Sen lobbying for more than $1 billion in assistance.

When contacted Thursday, the prince’s cabinet director denied any such comments attributed to the prince and denied the prince even met with Funcinpec party youth league members.

“No! The prince never said such a thing,” Thach Bunroeun said. “The prince very much appreciates the aid donors—on the contrary the prince very much thanks aid donors.”

Contrary to Hun Sen’s caution, in the name of national reconciliation, on the topic of trying former Khmer Rouge leaders, however, Prince Ranariddh said Thursday he felt trying former Khmer Rouge leaders for crimes against humanity was “unavoidable.”

“In principle, we cannot avoid a tribunal. We need national reconciliation, but we also need justice,” the prince said after a ceremony at Chaktomuk Theater.

in Phnom Penh.

In November, a three-member UN legal team visited Cambodia to assess evidence for holding an international tribunal to try those responsible for the murderous 1975-78 regime which resulted in the deaths of almost two million Cambodians. The legal experts’ report on their findings was sent to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Monday, where Annan has yet to make a decision on giving the green light to a UN-sponsored tribunal.

The prince’s father, King Norodom Sihanouk, has already stated his approval for an international tribunal.




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