Resistance General Rebuffs Gov’t Cease-Fire Demands

Resistance General Nhiek Bun Chhay rejected government cease-fire terms Monday, while a senior RCAF general expressed surprise at his former colleague’s response.

Nhiek Bun Chhay, RCAF’s first deputy chief of staff until July’s fighting pushed him out of the capital, said problematic government demands included “the disclosure of military positions, the number of troops, and armaments.”

Before he implements a cease-fire, details about the government’s proposal to reintegrate his forces into RCAF must be ironed out, Nhiek Bun Chhay insisted.

In his written statement, Nhiek Bun Chhay also took issue with RCAF Chief of General Staff Ke Kim Yan’s Friday order labeling resistance troops “extremist.”

Meas Sophea, a deputy chief of general staff who served directly beneath Nhiek Bun Chhay until July, called on resistance forces to lay down their weapons. “I don’t understand why resistance leaders don’t agree to the cease-fire proposal….No government or resistance soldiers want to fight anymore,” said Meas Sophea, one of the CPP’s highest-ranking generals.

Deposed first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh called a unilateral cease-fire at midnight Friday, which Nhiek Bun Chhay says he will respect.

Ke Kim Yan demanded Friday that resistance forces disengage from their Khmer Rouge allies, remain in their positions and report the number and names of troops in preparation for the soldiers to be reintegrated into the RCAF.

Nhiek Bun Chhay also proposed creating an ad-hoc committee with international observers and officers from both sides of the conflict to monitor the cease-fire.

A Western military analyst said Monday both the committee and the cease-fire were unrealistic. “There are many questions about a commission. How many people? What about its security? It would be a nightmare up there,” he said. “How realistic is that sort of commission going to be?”

He also questioned how resistance forces could separate themselves from their Anlong Veng-based Khmer Rouge allies, who  have rejected the cease-fire.

“They’ve gotten themselves in bed with the [Khmer Rouge], and how do they extract themselves from that?…Just by separating forces doesn’t mean you stop communication, for example, or liaison, or resupply,” he said.

He said the cease-fire is politically oriented and other commanders along the border provinces may continue to fight over money and timber.

Meas Sophea said resistance forces in O’Smach fired three or four shells at the nearby village of Kon Kriel on Saturday, but no soldiers or villagers were injured.

A second skirmish broke out Saturday between Khmer Rouge troops in Kompong Leng district in Kompong Chhnang province, Meas Sophea said.

He said Khmer Rouge attacked navy forces in the district near the southwest corner of the Tonle Sap lake.

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