Marshal Lon Nol, President of the Khmer Republic, appears to have adopted a visit-the-people policy - at least some of those cut-off from Phnom Penh except by air.
Marshal Lon Nol, President of the Khmer Republic, appears to have adopted a visit-the-people policy - at least some of those cut-off from Phnom Penh except by air. On Thursday (26 April) the Marshal flew into Siem Reap, a town fairly well encircled by Communist forces. Some three miles (5 kms) away is the great Temple complex of Angkor Watt, which the deposed Prince Sihanouk claims to have visited recently.
Despite Angkor Watt's closeness the president cannot go there - it has been held by Communist forces since 1970. It is only since the new airstrip near Siem Reap was opened four months ago that access to the town has been readily possible. Siem Reap's International Airport is in Government hands, but often comes under enemy fire. Consequently it is unsafe to use.
Although there was a welcoming programme for the Marshal with folk dancers, the wives of dignitaries and Buddhist monks present as well as some school-children, there were more soldiers than civilians in the crowd which heard the President speak, although the town has a civilian population in excess of 30,000.
Marshal Lon Nol urged the people to continue their fight against North Vietnam and Vietcong aggressors.
SYNOPSIS: Marchal Lon Nol. President of the Khmer Republic seems to have adopted a visit-the-people policy - at least some of those cut off from Phnom Penh except by air. On Thursday, the Marshal was welcomed to Siem Reap, a town pretty will encircled by Communist forces.
Only some three miles away from this place is Angkor Watt, the great Temple complex which the deposed Prince Sihanouk claims to have visited recently. President Lon Nol can't go there - it's been held by Communists since 1970. Only since the new airstrip at Siem Reap opened a couple of months ago has access to the town been readily possible. The International Airport often comes under enemy fire and is unsafe to use. But war worries did not prevent a traditional welcome for the Marshal.
The President urged citizens of the town to continue the struggle against the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong. Before flying back to Phnom Penh he told pressmen at an informal conference that the possibility of negotiations to end the war depended on the withdrawal of North Vietnamese troops from Cambodian territory. If this happened he would be prepared to talk peace....even with Prince Sihanouk.
President Lon Nol, despite his disability following a stroke, appeared to be well and very much in command of the situation. His visit to Siem Reap was very much a morale booster for the populace, which numbers about 30,000. He was asked if there was any anxiety about the situation affecting Phnom Penh. He answered: "If there was anything to worry about I wouldn't have left the city to come here."