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Cablegate: Cambodia Reviews Democratic Progress Since 1991

VZCZCXRO3748
OO RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHPF #1960/01 3031011
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 301011Z OCT 06
FM AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7536
INFO RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRL/AMEMBASSY BERLIN PRIORITY 0135
RUEHBS/AMEMBASSY BRUSSELS PRIORITY 0052
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 2242
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0392
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW PRIORITY 0373
RUEHOT/AMEMBASSY OTTAWA PRIORITY 0526
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS PRIORITY 0545
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 3100
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 1551
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 2190

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 PHNOM PENH 001960

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/MLS, IO, PRM

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV PHUM EAID ASEC KDEM CB
SUBJECT: CAMBODIA REVIEWS DEMOCRATIC PROGRESS SINCE 1991
PARIS PEACE ACCORDS

1. (U) Summary. On October 21, the International
Relations Institute organized a 15-year anniversary academic
forum reviewing the successes and failures of the 1991 Paris
Peace Accords and their implementation during the subsequent
UNTAC period. Cambodian government officials dominated the
list of speakers, with CPP President Chea Sim providing
opening remarks and Prime Minister Hun Sen delivering the
closing address to participants. International participants,
most having played a role in the Paris peace negotiation
process or during the UNTAC period, came from Britain,
Germany, Canada, Russia, the United States, and India. NGOs
and the opposition party were largely absent from the
gathering. Government speakers lauded the role of Hun Sen
for bringing security to the country after UNTAC's departure
by negotiating defections of senior Khmer Rouge commanders
and their units. The PM reminisced about the four-year
negotiation process that led up to the signing of the 1991
accords, and credited his win-win policy for the demise of
the Khmer Rouge as a political force. End Summary.

Cambodia 15 Years Later
-----------------------

2. (U) With the backing of the RGC, the International
Relations Institute organized a one-day academic forum to
celebrate the 15th anniversary of the signing of the Paris
Peace Accords. The program featured primarily Cambodian
government and international speakers; NGOs and civil society
representatives were omitted from the program. CPP President
Chea Sim opened the forum, praising Hun Sen and former King
Sihanouk for their respective roles in promoting peace and
national reconciliation. The Senate leader recognized the
role of the international community as well, and highlighted
the importance of non-retaliation among domestic political
leaders in achieving peace, although he noted the Khmer Rouge
were an exception and refused to disarm and participate in
the 1993 elections. During his presentation, DPM Sok An
referenced UNTAC's failure to bring peace, as stipulated in
the 1991 accords, and enumerated the positive efforts by PM
Hun Sen over the past 15 years that have led to peace and
stability in Cambodia.

3. (U) UNDP Resident Representative Douglas Gardner
outlined the progress Cambodia has made over the past 15
years in both the political and economic spheres, while
noting the UN's commitment to continue support to the RGC in
the implementation of the national development strategy.
Gardner flagged future oil/gas revenues as an area for
government planning efforts, and warned that a recent survey
stating only one out of two primary school entrants continues
to secondary school is a worrisome statistic. ASEAN Deputy
Secretary-General Soeung Rathchavy reviewed ASEAN's political

SIPDIS
stance towards Cambodia from the late 1970s until Cambodia's
joining of ASEAN in April 1999. Ambassadors from the EU,
Japan, France, and the UK focused their remarks on their
respective assistance programs in helping Cambodia realize
the goals of the Paris Accords: political
reconciliation/reintegration, peace and national unity,
rehabilitation/reconstruction, and continued international
support and cooperation.

4. (U) International speakers included Igor Rogachev,
former Soviet Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs; Nick
Etheridge, Deputy Head of the Canadian Delegation to the
Paris Negotiations; Peter Christian Hauswedell, former German
Deputy General for Asian and Pacific Affairs; and former U.S.
Ambassador Timothy Carney, who had worked for UNTAC's Public
Affairs Office. Etheridge recalled the 1993 elections and
the widespread turnout of Cambodian voters throughout most of
the country, despite the threat of violence by the Khmer
Rouge who boycotted the elections. Hauswedell praised the
1991 Accords for putting Cambodia on the path to democracy,
noting Cambodia is better off today than 15 years ago. He
argued that Cambodia has also made better progress than other
countries, e.g., Somalia, East Timor, Afghanistan, where the
UN has tried to transition a country from war to stability
and development. The former German official noted that the
Accords failed to lead to peace, and the demobilization

PHNOM PENH 00001960 002 OF 003


effort was not a success. Looking at Cambodia today,
Hauswedell described three areas where Cambodian politics
remain problematic: the personalization of politics,
difficulty in forming a government, and lack of
institutionalization and respect for the opposition.
Ambassador Carney focused his remarks on the role of
constitutions in helping to establish a society based on the
rule of law.

5. (U) Among Cambodian scholars, former Rector of the
University of Phnom Penh (and currently an RGC official in
the Ministry of Education) Pit Chamnan noted that many in the
audience (not just UNTAC) had contributed to peace and
democracy in Cambodia. Picking up on Peter Hauswedell's
comment that Cambodia has fared better than other countries,
Chamnan gave Hun Sen full credit for the country's progress.
He noted that Cambodia has provided a favorable environment
for the establishment of NGOs and civil society, and credited
some NGOs with contributing to Cambodia's democratic progress.

6. (U) Secretary-General for the Natural Disaster
Management Committee Peou Samy said that democracy had to be
adapted to Cambodian culture. He denounced NGOs for
criticizing the government and blamed them for the
divisiveness that has led to violence in the country. Samy
also praised Hun Sen's policy for dealing with the Khmer
Rouge: divide, weaken, conquer, rehabilitate and
reintegrate. Tep Darong, President of the Royal Academy of
Judicial Professions, focused most of his comments on the
post-UNTAC period, and applauded the government's record of
strengthening human capacity, the decentralization process,
social reforms, gender and environmental issues, and progress
towards finalizing an anti-corruption law. The only
Cambodian speaker to provide an academic look at the UNTAC
period was Ros Chantrabot, Vice President of the Royal
Academy of Cambodia, who noted that external factors and
changing attitudes of the former Soviet Union and China
towards Indochina in the late 1980s/early 1990s had favored
the Paris negotiation process. Within Cambodia, he
continued, there was a resurgence in Buddhism and internal
pressure for social harmony and political reconciliation.
Finally, regional powers (e.g., Thailand and Indonesia)
helped to support and facilitate a negotiated settlement
between all the parties.

Hun Sen: I Did It My Way
-------------------------

7. (SBU) In a nearly two-hour closing speech to the
audience, PM Hun Sen offered participants a series of stories
and vignettes of the negotiation process leading up to the
1991 Paris Accords, recalling his first meeting with Igor
Rogachev as a 27-year-old Foreign Minister. He noted that in
approaching the negotiations, his two strategic goals were to
maintain the national achievements realized since the
collapse of the Pol Pot regime in 1979, and to prevent the
Khmer Rouge from ever regaining power; there was no mention
of advancing democracy or national reconciliation. Most of
his remarks, however, covered the post-UNTAC period and the
PM minimized the role of the UN and international community
in helping to ease Cambodia out of its failed state status
and putting the country on the road democracy. The PM said
his win-win strategy was the sole reason for the peace
enjoyed by Cambodians today, and was predicated on three
guarantees to former Khmer Rouge combatants: personal safety
for themselves and their families, continued employment, no
confiscation of land or property. The PM added that he
supported the Extraordinary Chambers' efforts to bring former
Khmer Rouge leaders to justice and thanked donors for
assisting in that effort. He then skipped forward to the
RGC's overall development policies under the Rectangular
Development Strategy and Cambodia's historic act of joining
the UN mission to the Sudan after hosting UN peacekeepers in
Cambodia less than two decades ago.

Comment
-------


PHNOM PENH 00001960 003 OF 003


8. (SBU) The conference was very much a
government-sponsored effort to highlight the failures of
UNTAC (e.g., lack of peace and stability) and attribute the
country's successes to Hun Sen. The presentations by RGC
members were so similar that it appeared that a standard set
of talking points had been passed around in advance. The
deliberate exclusion of FUNCINPEC and the Sam Rainsy Party,
as well as the NGO community, in particular the Son Sann
Foundation (Son Sann was the fourth signatory of the Paris
Accords), was noted by many observers. The German Ambassador
remarked that the RGC-dominated proceedings and
self-congratulatory speeches did little to evoke the spirit
of national reconciliation that was one of the key goals of
the Paris Accords. UN Human Rights Office director Margo
Picken mentioned that the UN initially had discussed holding
a real symposium on the Paris Accords and lessons learned
fifteen years later, but the Cambodian government had
resisted the proposal. When the RGC realized that others
were considering going ahead with 15-year anniversary
conferences, the RGC enlisted the International Research
Institute to organize a conference dominated by government
speakers. Interestingly, as the PM discussed his strategy
for infiltrating the Khmer Rouge and convincing its
commanders to defect to the government, FUNCINPEC Secretary
General Nhek Bun Chhay was seated behind the PM as an invited
guest. The FUNCINPEC official, once a FUNCINPEC military
leader who opposed the CPP during the 1997 coup, and later
facilitated the reconciliation between Hun Sen and Prince
Norodom Ranariddh following the 2003 elections, has most
recently worked quietly with the PM to remove Ranariddh as
head of FUNCINPEC. The PM's win-win strategy against the
Khmer Rouge is virtually the same one used successfully
against FUNCINPEC today. End Comment.
MUSSOMELI

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