Second Prime Minister Hun Sen named five military officials Monday to negotiate the reintegration of forces loyal to deposed prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh back into RCAF.
But the plan appeared to bypass the thorny issue of amnesty for two top resistance generals.
If successful, the negotiations apparently would meet the last requirement for Prince Ranariddh to participate in this year’s national elections under a Japanese-brokered plan.
In a meeting Monday, Hun Sen told Japan’s Ambassador Masaki Saito the team would negotiate reintegration with resistance General Khann Savoeun, a statement from Hun Sen’s office said.
“[Hun Sen] said he considers this the last step to fulfill the Japanese peace plans and the required conditions for the prince to participate in the elections,” said Prak Sokhonn, a top aide to the second premier.
The negotiation team is to include General Dam Vuthy, head of the RCAF first bureau of General Staff; General Sar Saroeun, deputy head of the Fourth Military Region; General Keo Pisith, deputy head of the Fifth Military Region; Colonel Lao Lithong, deputy head of the Defense Ministry’s personnel department; and Colonel Sing Khamchantarong, head of the ministry’s information bureau.
However, Monday’s statement made no mention of top resistance general Nhiek Bun Chhay, the former RCAF deputy chief of staff who was convicted of conspiring with the Khmer Rouge along with Prince Ranariddh, or of Serey Kosal, another top aide convicted along with the prince.
The prince has said both should be amnestied and military analysts say reintegration is unrealistic without them. Hun Sen has refused to agree to the amnesties.
“We are still assessing the significance of this development, but tentatively we can say that we hope this development can overcome obstacles for Prince Ranariddh to participate in elections,” a Japanese Embassy official said.