Cambodia talks to move to capital
By Nate Thayer
Wednesday, June 26,1991
PATTAYA, Thailand — Prince Norodom Sihanouk said the three Cambodian rebel factions agreed Tuesday that the unity commission negotiating a settlement of the 13-year-old civil war should move to the capital.
No timetable was set, but he suggested the move to Phnom Penh could come this summer. Sihanouk, the former ruler of Cambodia who heads a guerrilla group, said the three rebel groups and the government were trying to settle how to monitor their latest agreement on a cease-fire. The truce pact was signed Monday.
Tuesday's agreement to establish the headquarters of the Supreme National Council in Phnom Penh came on the second day of peace talks between the three-party rebel coalition and the government of Prime Minister Hun Sen. "When Hun Sen gives me the signal, I will go immediately to Phnom Penh, perhaps in August," Sihanouk said. "We have achieved our national reconciliation and Phnom Penh does not belong exclusively to Mr. Hun Sen."
There was no immediate comment from the other participants at the talks. The council is comprised of representatives of the government and the guerrilla groups —Sihanouk's force, Son Sann's Khmer People's National Liberation Front and the Communist Khmer Rouge.
The council was formed to negotiate the implementation of a UN Security Council peace plan, which the government thus far has partly rejected. After a settlement, the council is supposed to help guide the nation in the period before UN-supervised elections.
Sihanouk said the members of the council would take their own armed guards to Phnom Penh. The rebel leaders have not been in Phnom Penh since they fled the Vietnamese invasion force that entered the capital in late 1978, drove out the Khmer Rouge regime and installed the current government. "From now on, the Supreme National Counc.il is operational," Sihanouk told reporters. "The Cambodian nation at last has a unified government.. . . There is a cease-fire and cessation of arms supplies, at least on paper, and the headquarters of the SNC is in Phnom Penh."
Previous truces have fallen apart, and Monday's agreement on an indefinite cease-fire left many issues unresolved, including how to halt combat and disarm the opposing groups. The prince said the council had not settled those differences, but added that a monitoring team of government and guerrilla members would be formed and a UN role would be explored. The Khmer Rouge had proposed a 700-man UN monitoring team, but the government apparently rejected the idea. Hun Sen has opposed a UN military force in Cambodia.
A UN monitoring force is called for under the peace plan approved Nov. 26 by the U.N. Security Council. The rebel groups have fully accepted the plan, which also calls for demobilization of the four factions and extensive U.N. involvement in the country's administration and military affairs before UN-supervised elections. Hun Sen's government has rejected disarmament before elections because it fears the Khmer Rouge will cheat. It is demanding measures that would prevent the group from returning to power. Hundreds of thousands of people died of famine, disease or execution during the Khmer Rouge's 3 1/2 years in power.