Cambodian strongman lashes out at Asian trade group
July 14, 1997
Web posted at: 10:19 a.m. EDT (1419 GMT)
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- Cambodia's Second Prime Minister Hun Sen lashed out Monday at the Asian trade
organization that condemned his bloody government takeover,
and he threatened to reconsider Cambodia's bid to join the
Hun Sen said he was afraid of joining the Association of
South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) because of what he described
as the organization's interference in Cambodia's internal
Hun Sen said Cambodia might now reconsider its application
for ASEAN membership: "We consider if we go to ASEAN or if we
stop. I want to stop if ASEAN continues to interfere in our
ASEAN, which groups Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, has put
Cambodia's application on hold after Hun Sen ousted First
Prime Minister Prince
Norodom Ranariddh on July 6 after two
days of fighting in Phnom Penh.
Cambodia had been due to join ASEAN this month, along with
Laos and Burma. ASEAN said last week that it still recognized
Ranariddh as first prime minister.
Hun Sen, who mixed with monks at a pagoda north of the capital Phnom Penh on Monday, also warned big powers not to
use aid as a weapon to pressure him.
"You cannot come and say 'Excellency, you must to this or do
that because my country has helped you a lot,'" Hun Sen said.
He maintained that "business is different from aid" and that
he would not be threatened.
Last week, the United States suspended aid to Cambodia for 30
days in response to Ranariddh's overthrow. Germany also
suspended aid indefinitely and Australia said it was
considering whether to put aid on hold. Overseas aid is said
to account for about half of Cambodia's annual budget.
The country's monarch, King Sihanouk, said on Monday that he
was doubtful about mediation efforts by ASEAN, as well as
France, the United States and Japan. Hun Sen had already
rejected an earlier offer to hold reconciliation talks.
However, the king, who is in the Chinese capital Beijing for
medical treatment, said he was willing to meet envoys from
ASEAN and the three other countries later in Beijing this
week in a renewed effort to halt the crisis in Cambodia.
On Monday, Hun Sen stepped up his rhetoric against Ranariddh,
calling him a terrorist and claiming that Ranariddh had
received money from Taiwan to buy arms and train alleged
terrorists in Cambodia. Taiwan immediately rejected the
At the time of the coup earlier this month, Ranariddh was
believed to be close to a peace accord with the last
hard-liners from the disintegrating Khmer Rouge guerrilla
army, which ruled Cambodia under its notorious leader Pol Pot
in a reign of terror from 1975 to 1979.
During Monday's statement, Hun Sen claimed to be in
possession of two documents which allegedly implicated
Ranariddh in a plot with the Khmer Rouge to increase the
prince's military strength in and around Phnom Penh.
Hun Sen's troops have been fighting forces loyal to Ranariddh since the ouster. And on Sunday, troops loyal to Hun Sen used artillery fire as Ranariddh's forces reportedly withdrew into northwestern parts of the country.
Ranariddh traveled to France the day before the coup and has
been lobbying overseas against Hun Sen.
Reporter John Raedler and Reuters contributed to this report
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