KAMCHEY MEA, Cambodia — Fighters from three of Cambodia's four rival armies began reporting to U.N. sites across this Southeast Asian nation Saturday, the head of the U.N. peacekeepers said.
But the Khmer Rouge guerrillas refused to take part in the U.N.-directed disarmament, raising the possibility of a new surge in fighting.
Other factions have warned that they will respond in kind to any attacks.
The Khmer Rouge has attacked several government positions over the last few weeks.
The disarming of government soldiers and three guerrilla groups is a critical element of the peace plan that all sides agreed to last year.
The Khmer Rouge says other aspects of the plan are not being implemented so it will not lay down its weapons.
Addressing 1,300 Phnom Penh government soldiers at Kamchey Mea cantonment site in southeast Prey Veng province, Yasushi Akashi, head of U.N. peacekeepers in Cambodia, said they would not suffer because they joined Phase Two of the U.N.-brokered peace accords.
"I would like to assure all of you that the international community is fully committed to bringing this peace process to its final successful conclusion," said Akashi, chief of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC).
Phase Two requires the rival armies--the Khmer Rouge, the Vietnam-backed Phnom Penh government, U.S.-backed anti-communists and royalists--to report to camps in preparation for the disarmament and demobilization stipulated in the peace accords.
The U.N. Security Council on Friday appealed to the Khmer Rouge to rejoin the peace process. The statement, released in New York, said that "any delay could jeopardize the whole peace process."
Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan reiterated Friday that his faction would refuse to cooperate until the U.N. force first verifies that Vietnamese troops have left the country and the Phnom Penh government is stripped of most of its powers.
Vietnam says it withdrew its last troops in September, 1989, and the U.N. mission says it has no evidence that any Vietnamese soldiers remain in the country.
Cambodia has suffered 22 years of warfare and turmoil, sparked by a 1970 coup by pro-American military officers.
A Vietnamese invasion in late 1978 brought down the Khmer Rouge government, which had led a three-year reign of terror over the country.
More than 1 million of Cambodia's 8 million people died under Khmer Rouge rule--by execution, in civil unrest and from starvation.
Diplomats in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, say they believe that almost all Vietnamese soldiers have gone except for a few advisers.
Here at Kamchey Mea base, guarded by a 40-member platoon of Bulgarian infantry on their first U.N. assignment, UNTAC's military commander, Lt. Gen. John Sanderson of Australia, took the salute as Phnom Penh troops, soon to be demobilized, paraded against a background of government flags and sky-blue banners bearing the message: "Welcome application of the Paris Peace accords, Oct. 23, 1991."
Similar scenes took place throughout the country.