Talks Crumble in Wake of Resistance Demand

The fourth attempt to discuss the reintegration of troops loyal to Prince Norodom Ranariddh

fail­ed Wednesday when resistance negotiators demanded a new cease-fire and amnesties for their outlawed generals.

Chief resistance negotiator Hun Phoeung, an adviser to the Defense Ministry before he fled last July, emerged after an hour from the ministry’s foreign relations department, declaring that no progress had been made.

“The results are no better [than the last time]. The government de­mands to talk about integration only while we first need to talk about a cease-fire with international monitors,” the brigadier general said.

Both sides on Wednesday pointed the finger at the other for instigating fighting within the last two weeks on the Thai border around strongholds allegedly held by resistance troops loyal to Prince Ranariddh, the deposed first prime minister.

However, General Dom Vuthy, the chief RCAF negotiator, said the army’s general staff issued orders for his group to discuss the reintegration issue and nothing else.

“The order from the general staff is clear, so we have to obey this order and prepare for integration,” Dom Vuthy said.

Dom Vuthy, who is also the dir­ector of personnel for RCAF general staff, said the resistance’s de­mands were merely the latest pretext meant to keep the prin­ce’s troops from reintegrating.

“They are probably not willing to integrate their troops,” he said.

Some in the government, citing the political parties law, claim that Funcinpec cannot legally run in the July 26 elections if resistance troops are not reintegrated.

While Funcinpec representatives insisted Tuesday that soldiers loyal to the prince are still part of the RCAF, the Ministry of Defense says they constitute an illegal armed force.

“This is a problem for the politicians,” General Nem Sowath, director of Cabinet for Defense, said last week. “We have a plan waiting for reintegration if all of the problems can be solved among the teams.”

Funcinpec spokesmen say they believe the amnesties for generals Nhiek Bun Chhay and Serey Kosal to be a provision in the four-pillar Japanese peace plan agreed to by both sides. A cease-fire was a pillar in the plan.

Minister of Justice Chem Snguon, interviewed last week, said he has advised the government that Nhiek Bun Chhay and Serey Kosal must serve two-thirds of their prison sentences before they can be amnestied.

The two have been sentenced to a combined 54 years in prison on charges ranging from destabilizing the government to antiquities theft.

King Norodom Sihanouk has said the two prime ministers must agree to amnesty the generals before he signs it.

(Additional reporting by Marc Levy and Touch Rotha)

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