Ruom Ritt Scolds French Diplomat

The first edition of a newsletter edited by royal confidante Ruom Ritt has launched a scathing attack on French Ambassador Gildas Le Lidec’s attitude toward human rights, citing remarks he made in a closed meeting with King Norodom Sihanouk.

“During an [April 20] audience with His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk, our envoy expressed frustration to the Cam­bodian sovereign because Cambodian pol­iticians in exile kept asking for an investigation about the extrajudicial killings committed by the Hun Sen regime after the coup d’etat of July 1997,” he said in “The Voice of Free Cambodia,” published by the Paris-based French Society for Democracy and Human Rights in Cambodia.

“According to sources from the Royal Palace present at the said audience, the French diplomat had told King Sihanouk: ‘In comparison to Bosnia and Algeria, 43 deaths are not much!’”

Ruom Ritt, whose name appears in the newsletter as editorial secretary, is purportedly a childhood friend and close confidante of the King. But his insider knowledge of palace intrigue has led many to suspect the name is a cover for the King himself—a charge denied by the monarch.

Excerpts from the April 20 meeting between the King, Le Lidec and French Foreign Ministry official Francois Dopffer, are apparently chosen to illustrate the re­buttals of the French to the King’s concerns over the scheduled July 26 poll.

“Regarding international observers, Dopffer expressed the view that too many observers would create problems,” the article said. Dopffer reportedly gave a similar response to the question of a TV or radio station for opposition parties.

“In response to a question from His Majesty the King on whether France was keeping contact with the democratic opposition, Dopffer told the King: ‘I have seen all the opposition and they hardly made an impression on me. Anyway, the CPP will win.’”


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