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Cambodia: 1956

1956: Cambodia

1957: Cambodia
1958: Cambodia
1959: Cambodia
1960: Cambodia
1961: Cambodia
1962: Cambodia
1963: Cambodia
1964: Cambodia
1965: Cambodia
1966: Cambodia
1967: Cambodia
1968: Cambodia
1969: Cambodia
1970: Cambodia
1971: Cambodia
1972: Cambodia (Khmer Republic)
1973: Cambodia (Khmer Republic)
1974: Cambodia (Khmer Republic)
1975: Cambodia
1976: Cambodia
1977: Cambodia
1978: Cambodia
1979: Cambodia
1980: Cambodia
1981: Cambodia
1982: Cambodia
1983: Cambodia
1984: Cambodia
1985: Cambodia
1986: Cambodia
1987: Cambodia
1988: Cambodia
1989: Cambodia
1990: Cambodia
1991: Cambodia
1992: Cambodia
1993: Cambodia
1994: Cambodia
1995: Cambodia
1996: Cambodia
1997: Cambodia
1998: Archaeology: Radar Reveals Hidden Ruins in Cambodia
1998: Cambodia: Hun Sen Declares Election Victory
1998: Pol Pot Dies at 73
1998: Coalition Government

Archives consist of articles that originally appeared in Collier's Year Book (for events of 1997 and earlier) or as monthly updates in Encarta Yearbook (for events of 1998 and later). Because they were published shortly after events occurred, they reflect the information available at that time. Cross references refer to Archive articles of the same year.


1956: Cambodia

Throughout the year the main interest in Cambodia centered on the activities of Prince (ex-King) Norodom Sihanouk. The year opened with the resignation of Oun Cheung Sun's government on January 7, only three days after taking over from the government of Prince Sihanouk, which had resigned the previous week on the grounds that it had carried out its program. The downfall of Oun Cheung Sun's short-lived government was the result of a motion sent to the Cambodian National Assembly by several thousand people demanding the return to power of Prince Sihanouk. The prince agreed to comply with this request after taking a short vacation.

Prince Sihanouk attempted to continue his earlier policy of establishing and defining Cambodia's neutral position in international relations. He had made a good-will visit to Japan in December 1955 which led to an agreement providing, among other things, for the emigration to Cambodia of 10,000 Japanese a year for the next five years. This was followed early in 1956 by a visit to the Philippines where, although expressing admiration for that country's armed forces, Prince Sihanouk categorically refused to commit Cambodia to any form of closer association with SEATO.

Early in March the process was carried a stage further when, on a trip to Communist China, Prince Sihanouk denounced SEATO in the strongest possible terms. This action apparently bore substantial, if somewhat delayed, fruit in the form of a free and unconditional gift of materials valued at some $22 million which Peking announced on June 21. Specifically, the Chinese promised to provide both the materials and the technical advice for the construction of four factories and for agricultural, water conservation, and electrical development plans.

Prince Sihanouk had returned home in time for the coronation of his father Norodom Suramarit at Phnom Penh on March 6. The royal procession, with its glittering array of elephants, chariots, and warriors in ancient costume, combined with the up-to-date French and American equipment of its armed forces, provided a brilliant spectacle which aptly symbolized the distinctive blend of old and new in Cambodia's national life. But not long after the ceremony Prince Sihanouk announced his resignation, along with that of his Cabinet, on March 30. The reason given for this action was that, owing to the hostility of its neighbors, Thailand and South Vietnam, and of the United States, it was not in the country's interest that he should remain in power. He also stated that Thailand and South Vietnam were enforcing an economic blockade against Cambodia and that the United States actively disapproved of his neutralist policy, in particular his unwillingness to associate Cambodia more directly with SEATO.

Shortly after his resignation Prince Sihanouk delivered the keynote speech at the third congress of the Popular Socialist Community (Sangkum Riyastr Niyum) which won all 91 seats in the Cambodian National Assembly in the elections held in September 1955. Referring to the recent difficulties between the United States and Cambodia, and with Cambodia's strained relations with Thailand and South Vietnam, the Prince nevertheless stated that the United States government had promised the same economic aid as before, without imposing on Cambodia any conditions or obligations to abandon her neutrality. He stressed the increasingly friendly relations existing between Cambodia and members of the Communist bloc, and disclosed that the Soviet Union and Poland would soon open legations at Phnom Penh. He also outlined an ambitious plan for the industrial and social development of the state along markedly socialist lines. He asked the delegates if, in the event the United States threatened to withdraw its aid, they would accept aid from the Communist countries, and the answer was a loud "Yes."

Although a new government had been formed meanwhile under the premiership of former Deputy Prime Minister Khim Tit, Prince Sihanouk continued to be by far the most influential man in the country. A few weeks after his resignation he resumed his overseas travels in search of support for his policies. Arriving in France on May 25, he stated that he had come to Europe at the invitation of the Spanish and Polish governments; but he paid a special tribute to France, with whom he declared Cambodia's relations to be excellent. However, in a further statement two weeks later he announced that his country would be ready to resume an active part in the French Union only if it were made less rigid. He envisaged something more like the British Commonwealth, which imposed general but no legal obligations, and he objected to the fact that the High Council of the French Union was always presided over by France. These comments were generally taken as confirmation that Prince Sihanouk's neutralism had been influenced by India, and that he was attempting insofar as possible to model his policy on that of Prime Minister Nehru.

Prince Sihanouk visited various East European countries and was received with particular warmth in Moscow. The Soviet government offered to build and equip a hospital in Phnom Penh as a gift, and promised to follow this with other technical and economic assistance, of an unspecified amount, but "without mercenary conditions."

The return of Prince Sihanouk to Cambodia was followed by further periods in and out of office. The resignation offered by Premier Khim Tit on July 30 was at first refused by King Norodom Suramarit; later he invited Prince Sihanouk once more to form a cabinet, which he did on September 15. On October 15 the prince resigned again, giving as his primary reason the problems of the budget. However, in a state radio broadcast, he declared: "My adversaries accuse me of paying lip service to the people, saying that I have done nothing for the people. There have also been difficulties of reorganization in the civil service. Nobody will bear witness against officials allegedly guilty of corruption. The only testimonies have been in anonymous letters from my enemies and adversaries."

The full explanation of the prince's resignation on this occasion was not forthcoming, but it is obvious that his continuing alternations in and out of office will not improve the country's prospects for either political or economic stability.


Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.


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