• Short Summary

    Former Cambodian leader, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, has called for a Geneva conference to help set up free elections in his country.

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    CU: Prince Norodom Sihanouk speaking in English.

    SIHANOUK: "The Cambodian people (indistinct) ..cannot compare my regime the ones which followed it in 1970. That was the Lon Nol regime in 1975, the Khmer Rouge regime. So, according to the many refugees we have now, Cambodia has now in France in the United States, etcetera, all over the world, they agree with each other; that, you know the regime of Prince Sihanouk was the best. And you know, in the past under my leadership they enjoyed a good life; we called it la joie de vivre, individual liberties, they could practice very freely religions, not only Buddhist, but all the religions -- Catholicism, Islam, etcetera, etcetera. And also I had built up for them many infirmaries and hospitals, even in the remotest places, in the countryside, and I built up for them many schools, primary, secondary, high schools, universities, even in the provinces. But, Lon Nol changed, er, turned them into barracks in the years seventy..up to seventy five, and Khmer Rouge closed them. And they remember that I had done much for them -- my people. So they would like to see Sihanouk go back, one day to Cambodia, to give back to them, you know, the same way of life. I think that my duty is to propose the convening of a new Geneva conference on Indo-China in general, and on Cambodia in particular in order to neutralise Cambodia, and to have a general election in Cambodia under... and give them national control, in order to let the Cambodia people have at last the right to replace the guns, and to speak out and to elect freely the political system and government they want. But the Vietnamese, the more, the stronger they are in cambodia. the more their behaviour vis a vis my proposal, there will... they will refuse to have such a conference if they are strong in Cambodia.

    Initials RH/


    Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved

    Background: Former Cambodian leader, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, has called for a Geneva conference to help set up free elections in his country. Prince Sihanouk, now living in exile in China, was ousted from the Cambodian leadership in March 1970 by military leader, Lon Nol. Marshal No1's government was itself overthrown in 1973 by the Khmer Rouge movement and this, in turn, by the Vietnamese invasion la Interviewed in Peking on Tuesday (24 April), Sihanouk said that, under his rule, the Cambodian people enjoyed a free lifestyle, with the choice to practice any religion. He said he had launched programmes to build universities, schools and hospitals, which had been closed down by successive rulers.

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