THE royalist party and the onetime Communist regime of Prime
Minister Hun Sen have set aside hostilities from 13 years of civil
war to move toward uniting Cambodia, agreeing on an interim
government and pressuring Khmer Rouge guerrillas to rejoin the
The 120-member constituent assembly elected in May was expected
to approve the provisional government later this week, government
and royalist party officials say. If the list of ministers is
accepted, it would be one of several incremental steps to avert a
possible breakdown in security amid the political feuding that
followed the country's first multiparty balloting in 21 years.
The agreement on the interim government came as all the major
wartime foes - including the radical Khmer Rouge - signaled
willingness to compromise, government officials say. This would
breathe new life into the United Nations-brokered peace plan for
Cambodia that has neared collapse several times.
The moves toward unity also have extended to the military.
Leaders of the Army under command of the Hun Sen government, and of
two armies that had battled to oust him, agreed in early June to
work together to form a unified fighting force.
Leaders of the three Cambodian armies, acting under UN auspices,
also have invited the Khmer Rouge to join a unified military, UN
spokesman Michael Williams said last week. That is a major step
toward reconciliation that underscores the importance Cambodian
leaders place on trying to entice the Khmer Rouge back into the
peace process. The radical communist movement, which ruled Cambodia
in the late 1970s, is blamed for the deaths of at least 1 million
The military leaders did not give the UN specific conditions for
the Khmer Rouge to meet, though they would likely demand that the
guerrillas give up control of the 20 percent of the country's
territory now in Khmer Rouge-ruled zones.
On Wednesday, Khmer Rouge guerrillas in two northwestern
Cambodian provinces - Siem Reap and Banteay Meanchay - told UN
peacekeeping troops that they wanted to join the country's armed
forces, UN military spokesman Lt. Col. John Weiland said. The
Khmer Rouge representatives also said they would open their territory
to the international peacekeepers.
Even officials with Hun Sen's government who had sworn there
could be no legitimate place in Cambodian politics for the Khmer
Rouge are taking a more conciliatory approach.
Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith says the Cambodian People's
Party would agree to include the Khmer Rouge in the armed forces if
the group showed "positive signs for national reconciliation."
Hun Sen and Prince Norodom Ranariddh - head of the royalist
party known by the acronym FUNCINPEC and son of head of state
Prince Norodom Sihanouk - will serve as copresidents in the
transitional leadership until the newly elected assembly writes a
constitution and forms a new government. …