Cambodia Modern History

People’s Republic of Kampuchea and Civil War

After Vietnamese troops marched into Cambodia (December 1978 – January 1979; fall of Phnom Penh on January 7) and the overthrow of the Khmer Rouge, on January 8, 1979 a Vietnam-backed People’s Revolutionary Council under Heng Samrin took over(1979–81 head of government and 1979–91 head of state) took power and proclaimed the People’s Republic of Kampuchea on January 10, 1979. A Vietnamese-Cambodian agreement (February 18, 1979) legitimized the occupation of Cambodia. However, the new system of government was only recognized by the states of the Eastern Bloc (cooperation agreement with the USSR, June 25, 1979) and a few states in the Third World (e.g. India). The UN initially supported the overthrown government system that continued to exist in exile as the legitimate representative of the Cambodian people, while China carried out a “punitive expedition” (in response to the occupation of Cambodia) against Vietnam in February / March 1979, although it was not militarily successful. From 1979 until their withdrawal in 1989, the Vietnamese troops in Cambodia, together with the government troops of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea, were constantly involved in heavy fighting with the various guerrilla groups, mostly operating out of the jungle areas, the most powerful of which was the Khmer Rouge. On June 22, 1982, at the insistence of China and the ASEAN states, the Cambodian rebel organizations founded an anti-Vietnamese three-party coalition (“coalition government of the Democratic Kampuchea”) consisting of representatives of the royalists around Prince Sihanouk (President), the bourgeois forces around Son Sann (* 1911, † 2000; Prime Minister) and the Khmer Rouge, who made Khieu Samphan vice-president. The coalition government was allowed to continue to represent the “Cambodian people” at the UN – against protests by the Pro-Vietnamese government in Phnom Penh. Thailand was increasingly affected by the Cambodian civil war, in whose border area – with the tacit tolerance of the Thai military – several refugee camps (partly controlled by the Khmer Rouge and other resistance groups and used to recruit new fighters) had been set up; in addition, it has repeatedly served as a retreat for the rebels.

After contacts between the Cambodian civil war parties since 1987, in particular between Sihanouk and the Prime Minister of the People’s Republic of Kampuchea Hun Sen (who has been in office since 1985), and increased international mediation efforts (the first of the International Cambodia Conferences in Paris in 1989), the five permanent members of the UN Security Council submitted At the end of August 1990 a peace plan for Cambodia (key points: formation of a Supreme National Council by the four Cambodian conflict parties, transitional administration by the UN and free elections organized by it, UN monitoring of a ceasefire and the disarmament of the civil war parties).

The 1991 peace treaty

On October 23, 1991, the four Cambodian parties to the conflict concluded a peace agreement in Paris. After the People’s Republic of Kampuchea was renamed (the ideologically undefined) »State of Cambodia« (April 30th) in 1989 and this was declared a neutral country in July of the same year, the communist state party gave up its monopoly of power in October 1991 (renamed to Cambodian People’s Party [KVP]), committed to political pluralism and guaranteed free practice of religion (since 1989 Buddhism is the state religion). In November 1991 Sihanouk returned to Phnom Penh and officially assumed the office of head of state as chairman of the Supreme National Council.

UN interim administration and establishment of a constitutional monarchy

In March 1992 the UNTAC (United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia) interim administration under the leadership of the Japanese Yasushi Akashi (* 1931) with a total of 22,000 employees (including around 16,000 blue helmets) began its work (the mission lasted until September 1993, Costs around US $ 2.8 billion). The Khmer Rouge opposed the disarmament of their troops, repeatedly broke the ceasefire (including attacks on UN personnel) and boycotted the elections to the Constituent Assembly in May 1993, from which the son was chaired by Prince Norodom Ranariddh (* 1944) Sihanouks, FUNCINPEC emerged as the winner with 45.5%, ahead of the KVP with 38.2%. On September 21, 1993, a new constitution was approved by the Constituent Assembly and Cambodia was designated a constitutional monarchy (new state name “Kingdom of Cambodia”); On September 24, 1993, the Councilor of the Throne elected Sihanouk to be king. In October 1993, a coalition government was established with Prince Ranariddh as first prime minister and the chairman of the KVP, Hun Sen, as Second Prime Minister. Although only emerged from the elections as the second strongest party, the CIP under Hun Sen succeeded in regaining most of the power and in pushing back the influence of the – internally divided – royalist FUNCINPEC. The rivalry between Prince Ranariddh and Hun Sen, the repression of domestic political critics (restriction of freedom of the press, massive obstruction and intimidation of opposition parties, including that of Sam Rainsy in November 1995 [* 1949]founded and temporarily banned Khmer National Party), growing corruption and an economically tense situation increasingly determined the situation in Cambodia, in which money laundering and smuggling (wood, precious stones) took on considerable proportions and which also became an important transit country for drug trafficking. The mining of large territories, one of the most serious legacies of the civil war (around 2,000 minefields on around 3,500 km2 with an estimated 10 million landmines), could only be reduced to a small extent.

External relations

After an ASEAN application for membership was rejected in July 1997 because of the severe domestic political crisis in the country at the time, Cambodia was accepted as the tenth member state on April 30, 1999. On October 13, 2004 it became a member of the WTO.

Since 2008, a border conflict with Thailand, which had been virulent for a long time, over the area of ​​the Buddhist Preah Vihear Temple, which UNESCO had declared a World Heritage Site, has intensified. Visit for Cambodia exotic diversity. On July 18, 2011, the International Court of Justice declared the area around the temple a demilitarized zone. In December 2011, an agreement was reached on a troop withdrawal. With a judgment on November 11, 2013, the International Court of Justice finally awarded the temple district to Cambodia, thereby confirming a decision from 1962.

Cambodia Recent History

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