Cambodians prepare for worst as poll tension grows: Fears of violence lead to stockpiling of food and arms in run-up to Sunday's multi-party elections
Friday 21 May 1993
The tension can be sensed at the usually bustling central market, where most of the gold, jewellery and watch stalls are closed. Only a sprinkling of shoppers can be seen, stocking up on rice and canned food. They fear the market will close if there are attacks on the capital during the six days of voting in the United Nations-supervised elections, starting on Sunday.
Nov Wan, 61, a mother of eight, has stocked up on rice and is prepared to board up her house and stay inside. 'I won't go anywhere except to vote,' she said. Her neighbour, Preap Rors, added: 'I am worried about the situation, but I must vote because I want a new government.'
Sa Vet, 40, who owns a tiny food stall at the market, said he sold more than 2,000 cans of sardines this week. He usually sells fewer than 100. The market's moneychangers are almost out of high-denomination banknotes. They say people have been frantically buying 500-riel (6.5p) notes, the largest available, because they will be easier to carry if they have to flee their homes.
All Cambodia's factions signed the UN-sponsored peace plan in 1991 but the Khmer Rouge is boycotting the poll and has been blamed for attacks that have killed and wounded dozens of UN personnel in the past two months. It is widely feared that the group will attack polling sites. The head of the UN peace- keeping force, Lieutenant-General John Sanderson, yesterday authorised other Cambodian factions to launch attacks to protect polling stations.
A number of university students and other people with families outside the capital have left for the provinces. Those with more money, mostly Cambodian-American entrepreneurs and political candidates, have sent their families abroad in the past few days. Flights out of the country are fully booked.
Many of those staying are buying guns and ammunition. Gun-sellers in Phnom Penh's covert arms bazaar say that in recent weeks a number of wealthy businessmen and factory owners have bought AK-47 automatic rifles, costing about pounds 45, to defend themselves. Bullets were selling fast at pounds 13 for a case of 700. One dealer said even UN officials had been buying weapons.
UN military personnel have been ordered off the streets by 10pm. Those in Phnom Penh, who have been unarmed throughout the 14-month operation, have been told to carry weapons on duty, and the families of UN staff were ordered last week to leave Cambodia until after the election.
Yesterday Prince Norodom Sihanouk, regarded by many as the sole hope for healing Cambodia's deep wounds, announced that he would return from Peking tomorrow. Earlier he had said he could not come back to Cambodia because of poor health. 'I had to retain distance from the entire electoral campaign to underscore clearly that I am not linked to any political party,' a statement from Prince Sihanouk said. He added that neither he, his wife nor his staff would cast their votes.
Fighting between the Khmer Rouge and Phnom Penh government forces was reported yesterday in the provinces of Kompong Thom, Kampot and Siem Reap. Several UN peace-keepers were evacuated from their post in Kompong Thom after suspected Khmer Rouge attackers began shelling a nearby government position.
Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'
Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'
Thought you'd seen it all after the Jeremy Paxman interview?
Greatest mystery about the hit BBC1 show is how it continues to be made at all, writes Grace Dent
"History is violent," says the US Army tank commander Don "Wardaddy" Collier
Striker's four-month ban for biting an opponent expires on Friday
Argentinian scored 'rabona' wonder goal for Tottenham in Europa League – see it here
- 1 This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
- 2 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 3 Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
- 4 Ottawa shootings: Bruce MacKinnon's cartoon is the perfect tribute to soldier Nathan Cirillo
- 5 Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Isis releases first video showing the stoning of woman accused of committing adultery as her father shouts 'don't call me Dad'
This 'woman calls police to order pizza' story isn't going where you're expecting
FCKH8: YouTube reinstates provocative anti-sexism video showing young girls swearing
Diwali: What is the festival of lights – and how is it celebrated around the world?
Jimmy Carr's controversial Oscar Pistorius joke goes a bit too far at the Q Awards
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Residents should throw a street party and mix with immigrant neighbours, councils told
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
£120 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Luton: The Job Randstad Education are ...
£350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reading are...
competitive benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Outstanding analytic expertise is req...
Highly Attractive Package: Austen Lloyd: A VERY HIGH QUALITY FIRM - A high q...