Cambodia Recent History

Nineteen centuries ago, colonizing warriors, the Cams, landed on the shores of Cambodia. They were the ones who called the country “Terra dei Cam”. Hunger disappeared when they appeared. In fact, they tilled the uncultivated fields and had abundant harvests. They occupied the whole country and civilized it.

The current population is composed of the descendants of the ancient Khmer, who established themselves in Cambodia since the fifth century after Christ. They first underwent the Indian influence of Brahamanesino and, in the tenth century after Christ, that of Buddhism, which remained the official religion forever.

From the X to the XII century they extended their territory with the conquests up to the rival Kingdom of Champa (Cocincina), had a great political power and founded the city of Angkor whose remains, which have come down to us, testify to the great architectural art of Khmera. In the thirteenth century the decline began, due to internal struggles, always to achieve power. It was necessary to arrive at the 17th century for the beginning of European influence in the country.

The Portuguese arrived first, then the Dutch, but the maximum was reached with the arrival of the French. France skillfully piloted the issues between Siam and Annam, who fought for dominion over Cambodia, and thus managed to convince King Norodon to conclude the treaty of 11 August 1863 with which Cambodia was placed under the French protectorate.

With another treaty, that of July 25, 1867, Siam, in turn, renounced the vassalage of Cambodia but retained the provinces of Battambang and Angkor for itself. In March 1907, Siam then ceded the territories of Battambang and Siemreap to France.

According to Abbreviationfinder, an acronym site which also features history of Cambodia, King Monivong ascended the throne in 1928, assisted by a Council of Ministers to direct the indigenous administration. A French resident, employed by the governor general of Indochina, represented the king in the French government.

The country was divided into 13 constituencies, each run by a French resident and an indigenous governor, assisted by a mandarin, to administer justice.

In 1908 the Municipality was created, with its mayor. Practical industrial and art schools sprang up in the country alongside primary schools. Traditional teaching was managed by the bonzes.

During the Second World War, France was forced to cede part of Cambodia to Thailand. He did so with the Tokyo treaty of May 1941.

Cambodia Recent History

As for Laos, also for Cambodia the return to the base of all the territories previously lost occurred. In December 1957 Cambodia was proclaimed an independent state in the orbit of the French Union. France, in May 1953, had recognized Norodom, king of Cambodia, military, judicial and economic sovereignty.

The first Cambodian Parliament did not prove to be up to the situation and then King Norodom Sihanouk dissolved it and replaced it with a Consultative Assembly.

Following the war fought by France in Indochina, worrying activities took place in Cambodia carried out by several groups of Cambodian rebels, in union with the Indochinese irregular troops, the Vietminh, who entered the country. The intervention of Geneva was necessary and on October 2, 1955 both the French troops and the Vietminhs had to leave the Cambodian territory free.

But on March 2, 1955, King Sihanouk had abdicated in favor of his father Norodom Suramarit; then in September he had presented himself to the elections at the head of the Popular Socialist Community obtaining all 91 available seats of the Consultative Assembly. As soon as this Assembly took place, an amendment to the Constitution was immediately approved, whereby the “autonomous state belonging to the French Union as associated”, became an “independent and sovereign state”. In January 1956 a new Constitution was promulgated which established:
– establishment of regional Assemblies,
– creation of an Upper House or Kingdom Council;
– suffrage for women;
– limitation of the French language (or any other foreign language) to diplomatic, administrative and technical uses only.

In March 1958 the new elections reassigned the absolute majority to the Sihanouk Party Assembly. In April 1960, with the death of King Norodom Suramarit, royal powers passed to a Council of Regency. In the following June a referendum was held and Sihanouk assumed the position of Head of State while the monarchy, impersonated by the queen mother, remained standing. and proclaimed Cambodian neutrality. The opposition was extra-parliamentary and supported by the “Khmer-Issarak” communists. So also in Cambodia a situation of dualism was created in the government. The new pro-American regime opposed the pro-Chinese sympathies assumed in the meantime by Sihanouk,

The United States sent forces in large quantities to counter the Khmer Rouge, who seized the government, and after various vicissitudes, in January 1975 these, with the help of the North Vietnamese, were the masters of the country. In 1976 Sihanouk resigned as head of state and the presidency was taken over by defense minister Kieu Sampham and head of government was Pol Pot. After a few months, and for unknown reasons, he was dismissed from the government and the country, but he returned to the political scene in 1977 and on the occasion of an official visit to the People’s Republic of China, he was recognized as the undisputed leader, with full powers in the political life of the country.

A period of struggle and confusion arose throughout Cambodia, where the Khmer Rouge now dominated. They established a very harsh regime towards populations and called it a “radical social revolution”, at all levels. Many city dwellers, harassed in all ways, were forced to abandon their homes and move to the countryside, where they had to work in a regime very similar to forced labor.

The economic policy of the Khmer Rouge included the priority of agriculture, which however was practiced manually, with the exclusion of any modern western means. The peasants did not even possess the tools. Everything was under the control of state cooperatives, where the kitchen was managed by a working group and sleep was also in the community. And all the rules had to be strictly observed, under penalty of serious repression.

With this system, the economic situation got worse and worse and undernourishment led to a frightening genocide. Millions of people died.

Meanwhile, completely adventurist foreign policy led to the dissolution of relations with Vietnam which, in December 1977, invaded Cambodia. And when the Vietnamese troops arrived a few kilometers from the capital, hostilities ceased and Hanoi proposed a negotiation. Meanwhile, under Vietnamese protection, the “United National Salvation Front of Kampuchea” had been created, which invited the population to rebel against Pol Pot, to create an independent and democratic Cambodia. And in January 1979 the Front guerrillas, together with Vietnamese troops, finally managed to break the Pol Pot regime. They then established a pro-Vietnamese government, headed by Heng Samrin, which was recognized only by the socialist countries.

Other events alternated but, in the end, in July 1982, an important first step was taken towards the solution of all problems. In the diplomatic field there were Sino-Soviet negotiations that led to the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from all over Cambodian territory and in 1990 the peace proposals of Australia were accepted, known under the name of “Piano Evans”, they were confirmed with the agreement of Paris in 1991 and it was established that free elections would be held for 1992/93. Meanwhile, the transition process was under direct United Nations control.

The elections of May 1993 were won by measure by the National United Front led by Prince Sihanouk. But they were contested, and to avoid a secessionist movement, a government was formed consisting of Sihanouk on the throne and a co-premier in which the “first” premier was Ranariddh and the “second” premier was Hun Senn. Both took office in October 1993 and the Constitution was immediately promulgated which established Cambodia to be a constitutional monarchy and a “free and multiparty democracy”.


The opposite political tendencies of the two prime ministers determined political chaos and in this chaos the issue of the Khmer Rouge returned, which occupied all of 1994.

Meanwhile, in 1995, the Minister of Finance, Sam Rainsy, was out of office, who had long been preaching the liberalization of the economy within the International Monetary Fund.

In November 1995 a new political formation was formed which was called “Party of the Khmer Nation”, founded by Rainsy himself, who made his program based on peace, social justice and the protection of forest heritage public.

Then there was a split in the Khmer Rouge and dissidents in 1997 arrested Pol Pot, tried him and confined him to Thailand where he died in 1998.

Serious unrest in 1998 disturbed the elections which, however, were won by a large majority by the Cambodian People’s Party. Third party was the party founded by Sam Rainsy.

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