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.
In 1989, Cambodia entered a new phase in its troubled history, as Vietnam announced the withdrawal of its troops from the country, where they had been stationed since the invasion of 1978. An international conference, convened in Paris to achieve a political settlement among four factions vying for control of Cambodia, broke down during the summer, giving rise to fears that large-scale civil war would follow Vietnam's pullout.
Vietnamese and Cambodian officials claimed that Vietnam, as promised earlier in the year, had withdrawn its last 26,000 troops from Cambodia by September 27, ending nearly 11 years of military involvement and leaving the pro-Vietnamese government in Cambodia to bear the brunt of the country's guerrilla war. That government had been installed in Phnom Penh after Vietnamese troops invaded in late 1978 and ousted the Khmer Rouge, who had killed more than a million Cambodians and uprooted millions more during their three-year rule. No international body monitored the troop withdrawal. There were charges by the three Cambodian resistance groups fighting the Phnom Penh government that Hanoi had disguised tens of thousands of Vietnamese troops in Cambodian uniforms.
A 19-nation international conference on Cambodia, co-chaired by France and Indonesia, ended in late August after a month of deliberations, without finding a peace plan. The conference foundered largely on what role the Khmer Rouge would play in a future government of reconciliation. Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia's former ruler and now leader of the resistance coalition, insisted that the Khmer Rouge be included in an interim, four-party coalition government that would rule prior to elections; Phnom Penh's Premier Hun Sen wanted the Khmer Rouge excluded from any provisional government.
Other unresolved issues included the role of the United Nations in monitoring the Vietnamese troop withdrawal, the question of whether the term "genocide" should be used to describe the earlier Khmer Rouge rule, and the problem of what to do about Vietnamese who had settled in Cambodia after 1978. (Phnom Penh said they numbered about 80,000; Western sources estimated there were as many as 200,000 to 400,000 or more.) Several thousand settlers had already returned home before late September. The Khmer Rouge demanded that all settlers return to Vietnam.
Most observers believed the collapse of the Paris talks would result in stepped-up fighting between the Phnom Penh army and the three resistance factions — the Khmer Rouge, Sihanouk's followers, and another non-Communist group loyal to former Premier Son Sann. Each of the factions, analysts said, wanted to improve its battlefield position before the next round of talks, perhaps in the spring of 1990. According to Vietnamese estimates, the various antigovernment factions had 37,000 soldiers, of whom 23,000 were inside Cambodia by mid-September — including 13,000 Khmer Rouge guerrillas, regarded as a formidable fighting force. Estimates of the Phnom Penh government's strength ranged from around 110,000 to 260,000.
Vietnamese and Cambodian military officials expected the Khmer Rouge to mount an offensive in the mountain and jungle areas of western Cambodia after the Vietnamese withdrew, in an attempt to establish a "liberated zone" and a competing Cambodian government. But these officials insisted that the guerrillas posed no real threat to the Phnom Penh government.
China and most non-Communist countries were expected to continue recognizing the resistance coalition and isolating the Phnom Penh government, at least for the time being, in an attempt to force it to agree to a political settlement.
Other Diplomatic Moves.
The Paris talks were preceded by a flurry of diplomatic activity, including negotiations between Premier Hun Sen and Prince Sihanouk in Indonesia in May, talks between all four Cambodian factions in Jakarta in February, two visits by Hun Sen to Thailand, which has long supported the resistance, and discussions between China, which arms the coalition, and the Soviet Union, which backs Phnom Penh and this year sharply increased its military aid to the Cambodian government.
The Phnom Penh government, in an attempt to boost economic development and improve its own popular appeal, launched a series of economic and political reforms this year. Particularly welcome was the government's decision to grant farmers long-term tenure to their land and the right to pass it on to their children. Under the Khmer Rouge, all property had been collectivized, and since the Vietnamese invasion, peasants had been urged to farm in "solidarity groups." Now they had the right to farm in family units. The government also restored private-property rights in Phnom Penh. The capital, emptied under the Khmer Rouge, had grown back to about 800,000 people. Its night-time curfew was lifted in April.
A foreign-investment law, intended to attract foreign capital to develop Cambodia's backward agricultural economy and rebuild its devastated infrastructure, received approval by the National Assembly in July. More foreign business executives visited Cambodia this year, but most investors waited for a peace agreement before signing contracts.
In another popular move, the National Assembly voted in April to restore Buddhism, which had been outlawed by the Khmer Rouge, to its former status as the country's national religion. Young men were again allowed to become monks, and Buddhist prayers were broadcast on the radio.
Phnom Penh's National Assembly declared Cambodia's "permanent neutrality" at a session in July. Critics of the Vietnamese-installed regime, however, saw the move as little more than a propaganda ploy prior to the opening of the international conference in Paris. Earlier in the year the Assembly abolished the use of the death penalty, perhaps to reassure guerrillas that they would not be killed if they defected. It also changed the official name of the country from People's Republic of Kampuchea to State of Cambodia, possibly because the older name was associated with the Khmer Rouge.
Meanwhile, Cambodia's Communist party, the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party, expanded the size of its leading bodies. Four new members, including three new alternate members, were appointed to the Politburo, and three alternate members were named full voting members. Twenty-one members were added to the Central Committee, expanding it to 65 members.
Microsoft ® Encarta ® Encyclopedia 2002. © 1993-2001 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
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