Vietnamese Taking Over Parts Of Cambodia, Sihanouk Claims

March 30, 1990|By Uli Schmetzer, Chicago Tribune

BEIJING — Prince Norodom Sihanouk, leader of the Cambodian resistance, alleged this week that Vietnam has annexed parts of southeastern Cambodia and and set up its own administration in two northeastern provinces, Ratanakari and Mondulkiri.


The mercurial former king and president told a news conference at his Beijing villa that only China and Vietnam could resolve the 11-year-old civil war between the three resistance factions and the Phnom Phen government of Prime Minister Hun Sen, which was installed after the Vietnamese invasion in 1978.

He said China has agreed to continue supplying weapons and ammunition to the three resistance factions, including the Khmer Rouge, an ultra-Maoist force responsible for the deaths of an estimated million Cambodians before the Vietnamese invasion ended their three-year reign of terror.


Using maps allegedly procured from Hanoi and his own ``intelligence``

reports, Sihanouk claimed the Vietnamese had pushed the common southeastern border into Cambodian territory between Kompot and Kratie provinces, home of the Khmer Ler highlanders, and had moved 1 million settlers into Cambodia.


``In some areas Cambodians are becoming an ethnic minority and the Vietnamese are becoming a majority,`` he told reporters.


Sihanouk, notorious for his periodic resignations as leader of the three resistance factions, took pains to explain that China`s support for the resistance, allegedly to combat Vietnamese expansionism in Asia, was not tied to any price and did not curb his freedom of decision. As he spoke, a Chinese army officer in golden epaulets stood in the doorway listening.


The Cambodian resistance, worried by international apathy for their cause and daily signs of regional detente with Vietnam and the charismatic Hun Sen in Phnom Phen, also has taken pains in recent weeks to claim that Vietnamese soldiers, camouflaged in Cambodian uniforms, are fighting their troops.


Independent sources support their claim, however. They say up to 15,000 Vietnamese ``advisers and technicians`` may have been used this year to help Hun Sen`s ragtag forces rout the resistance from border towns.


The resistance has charged that Hanoi is trying to consolidate control of Cambodia despite having officially withdrawn all its troops from the country last September. Vietnam has denied these allegations but admitted some advisers and technicians have remained in Cambodia.


With peace negotiations virtually stalled by the intransigence of the Khmer Rouge and the controversy over their role in a future coalition government, the resistance is also confronting their host, Thailand, as it becomes increasingly impatient for a settlement.


This month, the Thai Cabinet agreed to close eight refugee camps along the Thai-Cambodian border that have served as guerrilla bases for 11 years. Nearly 300,000 Cambodian refugees in the camps, many of whom were periodically recruited for the resistance, will be moved to a neutral camp inside Thailand. Thai officials have asked the Thai armed forces to stop cooperating with the resistance, which depends on Thailand`s good will to receive its supply of weapons over Thai transit routes.


On Monday, Vietnam`s Foreign Minister, Nguyen Co Thach, asked Thailand`s army commander in chief, Gen. Chavalit Yongchaid, to help set up a new round of talks on Cambodia between Vietnam, China and Thailand.


Chavalit was holding talks with senior Vietnamese leaders on the first visit to communist Vietnam by a Thai army commander, a significant step in regional rapprochement-and bad news for the resistance.


Vietnamese Taking Over Parts Of Cambodia, Sihanouk Claims ...




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