Plans for reintegrating several thousand resistance troops appeared to kick into gear over the weekend, but the future of five men given royal amnesties last week remain unclear.
Funcinpec members over the weekend were optimistic that Prince Norodom Sirivudh, the party’s former secretary-general and government foreign minister, would return from exile soon, although they said they don’t know in what capacity he will return.
Prince Sirivudh, who is King Norodom Sihanouk’s half-brother, was convicted in 1995 of plotting to assassinate Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.
Resistance commander Nhiek Bun Chhay, one of the five men amnestied Friday, told Kyodo News on Saturday that he will decide whether to return to Phnom Penh only after the new government guarantees safety for him and his troops.
“It is not a short procedure,” he said. “I have to consult Prince Ranariddh and open rounds of negotiation with the new government.”
However, less is known about the ambitions of the other recipients of amnesties: Serey Kosal, a top Funcinpec military strategist who is currently believed to be with resistance forces in the embattled district of Samlot; Prince Norodom Chakrapong, a former CPP four-star general and half-brother of Prince Ranariddh; and Sin Song, a former CPP police general.
King Sihanouk in summit negotiations last week signed royal amnesties for the five men after the second prime minister agreed Thursday to Funcinpec’s request for the pardons.
The five were convicted in Cambodian courts of either trying to overthrow the government or plotting to assassinate Hun Sen.
Funcinpec members over the weekend said that while Sin Song and Prince Chakrapong were CPP members when they fled the country in 1994, the party felt obligated to lodge requests for their amnesties.
Funcinpec spokesman Pok Than also said there may have been CPP support for Sin Song’s and Prince Chakrapong’s amnesty requests.
Oum Sarith, Cabinet chief for CPP President Chea Sim, said Friday that the summit seemed an appropriate time to resolve all of Funcinpec’s amnesty requests.
The CPP also agreed in the summit to reintegrating resistance troops loyal to Funcinpec’s president, Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
The RCAF chief of staff, General Ke Kim Yan, in a Saturday statement appealed for resistance soldiers to stop fighting against government forces and to end mobilization.
He also asked commanders who broke away from government forces after the July 1997 factional fighting to make a report of their soldiers and any equipment or weapons to their army region headquarters.
The military regions will be responsible for the safety of any soldiers who are reported to them, Ke Kim Yan wrote.
The Defense Ministry failed to reintegrate the resistance troops in four different negotiation sessions earlier this year. One army general said last month that the reintegration had failed because the CPP didn’t want it to happen.
The ostensible reasons for failure were CPP objections to the qualifications of the resistance’s negotiating team sent to Phnom Penh.
Nhiek Bun Chhay also told Kyodo on Saturday that he is planning for reintegration, and he wants to resume his previous rank and position in the RCAF.
“We are preparing to submit a list of all soldiers under my command to the government and make a demand the government returns the previous rank, position as well as their frozen property to them,” Nhiek Bun Chhay said.
General Dom Vuthy, RCAF chief of personnel, on Friday indicated that convicted military personnel such as Nhiek Bun Chhay will not be allowed back into the armed forces because of crimes they have allegedly committed.
“The amnesty is only for the court,” said Dom Vuthy, the armed forces’ chief negotiator in the failed reintegration talks. “So they can’t be in the army anymore.”
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