Cambodia: Voter Registration a Success; Cease-Fire Violations Continue

Article excerpt

The UN peace-keeping operation in Cambodia chalked up both successes and disappointments as it entered its second year, completing massive voter registration and repatriation processes despite ongoing cease-fire violations and demobilization problems.

Some 4.7 million persons were registered to vote during a three-month effort which began in October 1992, a "remarkable success" in the words of Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali. On 30 March, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that the last of the Thai border camps, which over 18 years had sheltered nearly three quarters of a million Cambodian refugees, had been dosed.

Meanwhile, the refusal of the Party of Democratic Kampuchea (PDK) to participate fully in phase II of the peace process had made it impossible, the Secretary-General reported, to carry out the cantonment, disarmament and demobilization of the factions' armed forces, as required by the October 1991 Paris Agreements.

And reports of a growing climate of violence spawned from politically motivated acts of intimidation clouded continuing efforts to secure a peaceful settlement.

The Security Council on 8 March endorsed the decision of the Supreme National Council of Cambodia (SNC) that the election for a constituent assembly should be held from 23 to 27 May and urged all Cambodian parties to cooperate fully with the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) towards that end.

The Council has declared the SNC "the unique legitimate body and source of authority in which, throughout the transition period, the sovereignty, independence and unity of Cambodia are enshrined".

In unanimously adopting resolution 810 (1993), the Council called on UNTAC to continue to make every effort to create and maintain a neutral political environment conducive to the holding of free and fair elections.

All Cambodian parties were urged to help create in the minds of their followers tolerance for peaceful political competition and "to ensure adherence to the code of conduct during the forthcoming political campaign", which was to begin on 7 April. They were particularly urged to take all measures to ensure freedom of speech, assembly and movement, as well as fair access to the media for all registered political parties during the electoral campaign, and to reassure Cambodians that the balloting would be secret.

The Council demanded that all Cambodian parties end all acts of violence and threats committed on political or ethnic grounds. It further demanded that those parties safeguard the lives and security of UNTAC personal throughout Cambodia, and desist from all threats or intimidation against them.

Expressing its readiness to endorse the results of the election, provided that the UN certified it as free and fair, the Council called on all parties to abide by their commitment under the Paris Agreements.

Under the Agreements, Cambodians have the right to determine their own political future through free and fair election of a constituent assembly, which will then draft and approve a new Cambodian constitution and transform itself into a legislative assembly that will create a new government.

UNTAC--currently the third largest peace-keeping operation in UN history, following those for Somalia and the Congo--was established on 28 February 1992. As of 31 January, there were 20,874 international UNTAC staff members--military and civilian--from more than 100 countries serving throughout Cambodia's 21 provinces. On 24 February, it was reported that some 28 military and civilian personnel had died while serving with UNTAC, and 32 UNTAC members had suffered injuries as a result either of mine explosions or of hostile action by various Cambodian political parties.

Reports reviewed

The Council in March reviewed two progress reports of the Secretary-General on UNTAC.

A 25 January report (S/25124) covering UNTAC activities through 10 January stated that the voter registration drive UNTAC had begun in October 1992 had been a "remarkable success", with some 4. …