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Cambodia: prince Ranariddh's return



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ALEXANDER DOWNER

FA34 30 March, 1998

CAMBODIA: PRINCE RANARIDDH’S RETURN

The Australian Government warmly welcomes the return of Prince Ranariddh to Cambodia today to participate in the electoral process in his country. He was met on arrival by a large number of Cambodians and international observers, including the Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, Dr Malcolm Leader. This presence demonstrated the international community’s interest in the principle of freedom of participation in the electoral process in Cambodia. The Cambodian elections are scheduled to be held on 26 July. -

In the lead-up to this latest positive development, the Australian Government was very active, both bilaterally and as member of the "Friends of Cambodia" group, which Australia was instrumental in establishing, in encouraging all the Cambodian parties to cooperate in achieving peaceful political solutions to their differences. When I met Prince Ranariddh, Ung Huot and Hun Sen in New York in September last year, I strongly urged them at that time to

find a political solution to the problem of Prince Ranariddh’s return, stressing that the ability of all parties to participate in the electoral process was key to the credibility of that process.

This is a message that we have delivered consistently and vigorously to the Cambodian parties since that time and we are pleased to see the response from the Cambodian parties which has resulted in Prince Ranariddh’s ability,to return. The conditions for Prince Ranariddh’s return were one of the key issues addressed in a recent Japanese Government initiative, which Australia strongly supported, aimed at resolving the political crisis in Cambodia and moving forward to the national elections.

I now call on all the Cambodian parties to continue to cooperate in moving forward in an electoral process free from violence and intimidation, in which all the parties can campaign freely. The Australian Government also strongly urges the Cambodian parties to maintain the cease-fire and not to resort to the use of force. This, the protection of human rights, and the

ability for all parties to campaign freely are key issues in creating a climate conducive to the holding of free, fair and credible elections. It is through the elections that we hope to see a return to stability in Cambodia. The elections will also be an important step towards Cambodia becoming a fully integrated member of the regional and international community.

Further information: Innes Willox (0411) 414695

Media releases and speeches are available from DFAT via the internet, http://www.dfat.gov.au/