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English/Nat Hun Sen, Cambodia's new ruler, has appeared in public for the first time since ousting his arch rival and co-premier Norodom Ranariddh. He attended the opening of a new school and temple being built just south of the capital, Phnom Penh. Despite denying he had staged a coup, Hun Sen has been consolidating power in the capital by eliminating his competition. Hun Sen is grooming Ton Chhay, a one-time royalist FUNCINPEC supporter, as Ranariddh's replacement. Around two thousand people greeted Cambodia's self-styled leader, Hun Sen, in Kandal Province on Saturday. Moving easily through the cheering crowds he chatted and shook hands, his purpose to attend an opening ceremony for a new school and temple, just outside the capital. The school, as most do in Cambodia, will bear Hun Sen's name. This was Hun Sen's first public appearance since ousting his co-Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh last week. While handing out school books the new leader said the fighting of the past week was over and it was time for the country to return to normal. SOUNDBITE: (English) Q: Do you think the fighting is over? A: Finished. I hope that we can now have stability...five years. We destroy completely SUPER CAPTION: Hun Sen, New Leader of Cambodia The international community condemned the apparent coup. But Hun Sen has justified his actions as a pre-emptive move against his rival Prince Ranariddh, who allegedly was forming a private militia force with defecting Khmer Rouge guerrillas. The new leader told the media that outsiders not to interfere in internal matters. SOUNDBITE: (English) "I don't want anybody outside to bring pressure or interference to Cambodia's problem. This is a member of United Nations, and as member of the United Nations they should not interfere." SUPER CAPTION: Hun Sen, New Leader of Cambodia Despite the country's foreign aid fast diminishing Hun Sen defiantly carried on with a business as usual approach on Saturday. SOUNDBITE: (English) "I want the leaders of the world to see the reality in Cambodia." SUPER CAPTION: Hun Sen, New Leader of Cambodia Hun Sen drew huge crowds at the opening ceremony of the school and temple, support for him hear appears to be high. Although he has denied seizing power by force, in the northwestern part of the country, artillery fire could still be heard, evidence of continuing resistance to his takeover. Back in the capital, the man tipped to replace Prince Ranariddh as leader of the FUNCINPEC party, flew in yesterday (Friday). Ton Chhay was part of a breakaway group which split from the main party in June, following in-party fighting and the failure to make Ranariddh step down. He formed his owned party, which he says is the genuine FUNCINPEC. Latest reports suggest this is the man Hun Sen is grooming to replace his rival in dual leadership of Cambodia. SOUNDBITE: (English) "And I will do what they need me to do. Q: Doing what? A: To be prime minister if they need me to be." SUPER CAPTION: Ton Chhay, Breakaway FUNCINPEC Faction Leader Upon his arrival Ton Chhay held meetings with party members at the National Assembly. And he said he was prepared to work with Hun Sen. SOUNDBITE: (English) "We've got to work with (Hun Sen) because we are the partners of the government." SUPER CAPTION: Ton Chhay, Co-Prime Minister-to-be In Kandal Province, Hun Sen would not be drawn on the issue of who would be replacing Prince Ranariddh. You can license this story through AP Archive:

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