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Friday, February 27, 1998 Published at 07:32 GMT

World: Asia-Pacific

Ceasefire called in Cambodia

The Cambodian government in Phnom Penh has ordered an immediate ceasefire to end the fighting between government troops and opposition forces loyal to the country's ousted Prime Minister, Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

The move came a few hours after Prince Ranariddh issued a statement from Bangkok, announcing that military forces under his control were being told to lay down their arms at midnight on Friday, local time.

[ image: Prince Norodom Ranariddh - called for ceasefire]
Prince Norodom Ranariddh - called for ceasefire
He said he had taken the decision to end the suffering of the Cambodian people and to enable scheduled elections to take place in July.

Cambodia's Secretary of State for Information, Khieu Kanharith, said the government had been planning to order the ceasefire for days, but had been waiting for a similar gesture from Prince Ranariddh.

Fighting has continued in north-west Cambodia since Prince Ranariddh was ousted from power last year by his rival, Hun Sen.

Tens of thousands of Cambodians have been forced to flee their homes into neighbouring Thailand.

Under a Japanese-brokered plan, Prince Ranariddh, is due to return to Phnom Penh next month to take part in the election, after first being pardoned for security-related crimes.

Hun Sen has said he looks forward to the reintegration of opposition soldiers into the Cambodian armed forces.

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