Khmer Rhouge plotted against allies

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The Independent Online
PHNOM PENH (AP) - The Khmer Rouge was plotting a return to power by betraying partners in peace talks and installing a government in Cambodia similar to its genocidal regime of the 1970s, according to papers discovered near the home of the late rebel leader Pol Pot.

The politically explosive papers lend credence to the strongman Hun Sen's assertions that his bloody coup against his co-prime minister, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who backed the negotiations, was justified in order to stop the Khmer Rouge.

The papers, obtained by the bi-weekly Phnom Penh Post, provide the most detailed look yet at the mindset of the revolutionary movement from the time Pol Pot was overthrown as leader last June until January this year.

Three notebooks filled with dated entries were found near Pol Pot's hilltop home close to the Thai border, occupied this month by the Cambodian army. The Post, Cambodia's most respected newspaper, published the accounts yesterday. They quote Ta Mok, the one-legged general who deposed Pol Pot, accusing the former leader of stealing money from the organisation and saying he "flattered himself as the world's king".

Pol Pot had $54m (pounds 33m) spread across three bank accounts, senior guerrillas cited in the papers claim. The movement had tens of millions more in cash, gold and gems.

Pol Pot, 73, held under house arrest by his ex- comrades, died of a purported heart attack on 15 April during a retreat by Ta Mok's troops from a government offensive.

Ta Mok and other senior Khmer Rouge leaders seized power after Pol Pot executed his one-time defence minister, Son Sen, in a dispute over whether to hold peace negotiations with Prince Ranariddh.

The prince pushed the talks forward, but Hun Sen opposed them and toppled the prince in a bloody coup last July.

The papers show that the Khmer Rouge had planned to join Prince Ranariddh's opposition coalition, the National United Front, to rebuild their own weakened forces and start clawing back power legally.

They were plotting to betray him and set up their own agrarian regime, apparently not very different from the one that caused the deaths of as many as 2 million people from forced labour, starvation and execution between 1975 and 1979.

The new regime would be "led by the poor peasant farmer," an eerie echo of their old Maoist-inspired creed.

According to the papers, Prince Ranariddh believed before he was deposed that the talks with the Khmer Rouge would gain him military and political support against Hun Sen.

The Khmer Rouge leaders say they were promised control of local bodies while the prince's supporters would control provincial political machinery. Since he was ousted, Prince Ranariddh has repeatedly denied that his armed forces had formed an alliance with the Khmer Rouge.

The papers tell a different story and show the guerrillas had little respect for their allies.

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