Judy Ledgerwood

 

CONTEMPORARY CAMBODIA

 

Reading:  UN Peacekeeping Missions: The Lessons From Cambodia,  Asia Pacific Issues, March 1994.

VideoFear and Hope in Cambodia, United Nations, 1993 (optional)

Description:  After the class views portions of Fear and Hope, which focuses on the 1993 UN sponsored elections, the lecture which follows will deal with Cambodian politics and society since 1993.  We will discuss on the formation of a coalition government and subsequent realignments within and across the political parties.   This includes the 1997 coup d'etat and the 1998 elections.  The divisions within the Khmer Rouge, the defections to the government of top DK leaders and the possibility of a war crimes trial will also be discussed.

 

 

 

Lecture notes:

The key to understanding the shifting political alliances in Cambodia is to start with the names of a few key players and trace their movements over the last thirty years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
WB01541_.gif (712 bytes)Royalists:
King Norodom Sihanouk -- placed on the throne by the French in 1941, abdicated in 1955 to found the Sangkum party which swept national elections.  Ruled Cambodia almost single-handedly until 1970 when he is overthrown in a coup.  Set up a government in exile in Beijing allied with the communists he had persecuted during his rule.   Appealed to Cambodians to join the Khmer Rouge movement.  In 1975 returned to Phnom Penh with KR victory, but is only a figurehead.  In 1976 he resigned, remained in the palace under house arrest.  In 1979, escaped KR control while in New York, went into exile in China.  1982 formed a coalition government-in-exile with Khmer Rouge and former Prime-Minister Son Sann.  In 1991 signed the Paris Peace Agreement ending the civil war, agreed to be the interim head of state during the transition period. After elections in 1993, was again crowned King of Cambodia, but with no constitutional authority.  Sihanouk's son Norodom Ranariddh is head of the royalist FUNCINPEC (United National Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia). FUNCINPEC won the election in 1993, but was pushed out of the coalition government by a coup in 1997; they came in second in the election of 1998 and again are part of a coalition government with the Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP).
WB01540_.gif (632 bytes)The Non-Communists
Lon Nol -- Leader between 1970 and 1975.  Received US military assistance, but his regime known as notoriously corrupt.  Presided over a civil war that devastated the country.  Fled in April 1975 to exile in the U.S. Members of this ill-fated government, including the former Prime-Minister Son Sann formed a military force on the Thai border after 1979 called the Khmer Peoples National Liberation Front (KPNLF).   They fought with the royalists and the Khmer Rouge against the Vietnamese and their Khmer allies.  Son Sann was a signatory of the Paris Peace Accords.  The party he formed, the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party, came in a distant third in the elections of 1993, gaining ten of the 120 seats in the National Assembly.  After the elections the party was torn apart by internal divisions, with defectors receiving active support from the dominant ruling party, the CPP.  By the time of the 1998 elections the party had been effectively dismantled and they won no seats.
WB01542_.gif (729 bytes)The Khmer Rouge (Democratic Kampuchea)
Pol Pot -- Head of Democratic Kampuchea government between 1975 and 1979. After defeat by the Vietnamese in 1979, retreated to the Thai-Cambodia border.  Fought a second guerrilla war against the Vietnamese and their Khmer allies (1979-1991).  The DK signed the Paris Peace agreement in 1991, but then abandoned and attacked the process.   After the elections of 1993, dramatically reduced influence.  In 1996, Ieng Sary, the number three leader under the DK regime split with Pol Pot and defected to the new government.  This weakened the DK dramatically in terms of personnel and resources.  In 1997 when the DK split again, Pol Pot was arrested and in a bizarre show trial filmed by a western journalist he was stripped of his power and placed under permanent house arrest.  He died of an apparent heart attack in April 1998.  The movement he lead continued to fragment until only one general remained in opposition to the government.  When this general, Ta Mok, was captured, the Khmer Rouge effectively ceased to exist.  Ieng Sary and other Khmer Rouge leaders remain free and in enclaves they were allowed to continue to control as part of their agreement with the government at the time of their defection.
WB01539_.gif (682 bytes)The Pro-Vietnamese Communists
Hun Sen--was a lieutenant in the Khmer Rouge who went to Vietnam during DK purges of the eastern zone. When the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia in 1979 and ended Democratic Kampuchea, they installed a government led by Khmer Rouge defectors and Khmer communists who had lived in Vietnam since the 1950s.  This government, the Peoples Republic of Kampuchea, was led by Heng Samrin as head of state.   Hun Sen served as Foreign Minister and later as Prime Minister.  It was Hun Sen who entered into negotiations with Sihanouk that eventually resulted in the Paris Agreements.  In 1989 the PRK changed its name to the State of Cambodia (SOC), instituted policy changes designed to shed their communist affiliations; they reinstated private property and Buddhism as the national religion.  The communist party became the Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP).  The CPP won 38 percent of the popular vote in 1993, but used their military and bureaucratic might to force a power sharing arrangement with FUNCINPEC.  Hun Sen and Ranariddh became co-prime ministers and power was divided between the two parties in every ministry and at the provincial level.  The result was an unstable political coalition that barely functioned.  In July 1997, Hun Sen ousted Ranariddh in a coup d'etat.   International pressure forced Hun Sen to hold elections as previously scheduled in 1998.  This time the CPP won the election with only 41 percent of the vote.   Again the CPP and FUNCINPEC were forced into forming a coalition government, but this time with a much clearer division of power.  The CPP took control of such important government ministries as defense, interior and finance; while FUNCINPEC received such ministries as Health, Education and Culture.  Hun Sen is now the sole Prime Minister of Cambodia.

 

Chronology:
May 1993 UN Supervised Elections are held.
Sept. 1993 New Constitution promulgated for the Kingdom of Cambodia. Norodom Sihanouk becomes King for a second time.
July 1994 Aborted coup attempt.  Two CPP officials charged, sent into exile.
Oct. 1994 Sam Rainsy, outspoken FUNCINPEC Minister of Finance is fired.
Dec. 1995 Prince Norodom Sirivuth, former FUNCINPEC Minister of Foreign Affairs is arrested for plotting to assassinate Hun Sen, goes into exile.
June 1995 The Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party splits, half led by Son Sann and half by Ieng Mouly, Minister of Information. The latter promptly received support from the CPP.
Oct. 1995 When the Son Sann BLDP tries to hold a party conference, grenades were thrown into the compound, injuring several people.
Oct. 1995 Sam Rainsy announces the formation of a new party, the Khmer Nation Party.
Feb. 1996 A splinter group from the Khmer Nation Party breaks away and declares itself the legitimate KNP.  CPP supports their claims.
April 1996 At the FUNCINPEC  party congress, Rannaridh attacks the coalition with the CPP, demands power sharing at the local level.
Aug. 1996 Ieng Sary defects to the government with a large portion of KR troops, he is allowed to retain control of the area around Pailin in western Battambang province.   He is given amnesty and his forces are merged with the national army.
Feb. 1997 A new political alliance is formed between FUNCINPEC, the Sam Rainsy's Khmer Nation Party, and Son Sann's BLDP.
March 1997 A peaceful demonstration led by Sam Rainsy is attacked with grenades. Some 15 people are killed and 100 wounded.  Members of Hun Sen's personal guard are alleged to have facilitated the attack.
May-June 1997 Both FUNCINPEC and CPP are negotiating with the remaining Khmer Rouge hard-liners, triggering a further split in their ranks.
July 1997 CPP and FUNCINPEC forces clash for two days in the streets of Phnom Penh.   FUNCINPEC military forces are crushed and Rannaridh is forced out of the coalition government.
July 1997 The KR hold a bizarre show trial of Pol Pot.  He is sentenced to house arrest.
March 1998 Hun Sen is successful at negotiating with other Khmer Rouge commanders to defect to the government.  Government soldiers take and hold the KR base at Anlong Veng.
April 1998 Pol Pot dies of an apparent heart attack.  Rumors say that he committed suicide rather than be turned over for trial by his former colleagues at arms.
July 1998 Elections are held.  CPP wins with 41 percent of the vote, FUNCINPEC is second with 31 percent, the Sam Rainsy Party has 14 percent.  A new coalition government with CPP and FUNCINPEC is formed, but one clearly dominated by the CPP. They remain in control of all military and police operations. Since the elections a new stability has taken hold in the country.  For the first time in thirty years there is no fighting anywhere in Cambodia.

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