Some analysts said they thought the announcement was a theatrical ploy by Sihanouk, a former ruler of Cambodia who is now the figurehead of a rebellion, to pressure the Vietnamese and Sihanouk's two rebel partners, Khieu Samphan, leader of the Khmer Rouge, and Son Sann, leader of an anti-Communist nationalist movement, to join them in a broad Cambodian peace conference.
[Sihanouk] said, in the telegram, that he still favors a future Cambodia that is "non-Communist, non-socialist, neutral and truly nonaligned" with "a French-style, liberal democracy." The government, Sihanouk went on, should include all four political segments of Cambodia: the Khmer Rouge, the anti-Communists, Sihanouk's followers, and the present government. But the prince said that Vietnam will have to withdraw all its troops before the new Cambodian government is formed.
The latest phase of the civil war in Cambodia began in late 1978 when the Vietnamese invaded and brought down the bloody regime of the Khmer Rouge. Sihanouk and Son Sann later joined the Khmer Rouge in a rebel coalition against the Vietnamese-backed government in Phnom Penh.