SRP Will Not Dissolve Controversial Committee

The Sam Rainsy Party will not dis­solve Committee Number 14, the controversial body that the government said was a front for an armed force aimed at overthrowing the government, acting party Pres­i­dent Kong Korm said Wednesday.

The committee, which the opposition says monitors the activities of the Ministry of Defense, was previously headed by opposition party member Cheam Channy, and in Aug­ust led to his seven-year sentence for forming an illegal army.

“We will not dissolve the committee. This is just a shadow committee to investigate the government’s weak points and its reform process,” Kong Korm said.

“The Sam Rainsy Party is not the ruling party so it needs the committee,” he said, though he added that the committee will be re­form­ed so its purposes cannot be misinterpreted again.

Cheam Channy, who left military court a free man on Monday after be­ing pardoned by King Norodom Sihamoni, maintained that the committee had never been an armed force.

“I am innocent. The military court could not find any evidence of any weapons,” he said.

He added that he did not feel confident about returning to his role within the committee.

“I don’t know whether we will continue or dissolve it. I am afraid they will accuse me,” he said.

Mol Roeup, the director of military intelligence at the Ministry of De­fense, who in July 2004 made a complaint to the military court saying the committee was a front for an armed force, refused to comment on the committee’s resumption.

“My officers did not inform me yet, so I will not comment until I know,” he said.

Government spokesman Khieu Kan­harith said the government does not regard the committee as il­legal, adding that the government filed a lawsuit against Cheam Chan­ny because he was appointing people to be soldiers.

“We never said the committee was illegal,” he said.


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