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Cambodia: 1997

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.


1997: Cambodia

In a coup after heavy fighting in and around the capital from July 4 to July 6, 1997, Second Prime Minister Hun Sen took control of Cambodia, ousting First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh and ending their uneasy coalition government. There had been frequent clashes between armed supporters of the two men earlier in the year. Animosities came to a head during negotiations between Ranariddh and Khieu Samphan, who replaced the notorious Pol Pot as Khmer Rouge leader in June. Hun Sen saw these talks as a challenge to his growing control over the government. Under an agreement signed by Ranariddh and Khieu, the Khmer Rouge pledged to dissolve their "provisional government" and support the constitution. In a secret side deal the Khmer Rouge agreed to re-form itself as the National Unity Party and join the National United Front group led by the royalist Funcinpec party to oppose Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party in May 1998 elections.

On July 4, Hun Sen ordered the arrest of Ranariddh, who had left the country the previous day. The ensuing two-day battle killed over 100 people. Two Funcinpec military leaders were arrested, allegedly tortured, and executed. Human rights agencies reported 800 arrests and between 41 and 60 executions.

On July 25 the new Khmer Rouge leadership denounced Pol Pot at a "people's tribunal" in their jungle headquarters of Anlong Veng. Pol Pot was responsible for the massacre of over a million Cambodians during the 1970s. The tribunal sentenced him to life imprisonment for ordering the murder of Khmer Rouge associates who negotiated with Funcinpec and the execution in June 1997 of his military chief Son Sen and Son Sen's family. The Khmer Rouge rejected a trial of Pol Pot under UN auspices and U.S. demands that he be handed over to an international tribunal.

Hun Sen's takeover was ratified on July 7 in a National Assembly vote by his supporters and the remaining Funcinpec members (24 had sought asylum in Thailand). On July 16, Funcinpec endorsed Foreign Minister Ung Huot as its new leader, and when the National Assembly reconvened on August 6, Ung Huot was confirmed as First Prime Minister in Ranariddh's place. Troops loyal to Ranariddh mounted guerrilla operations. On August 24, Hun Sen's forces captured the last Ranariddh holdout at O'Smach, on the Thai border, and prepared to attack the Khmer Rouge base in Anlong Veng. Over 80,000 civilians fled into Thailand. At least 5,000 refugees remained scattered in the border region.

Many foreign governments rebuked Hun Sen for the coup, and Japan, the United States, and the European Union suspended or cut aid to Cambodia. On July 10 the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) rescinded its May invitation to Cambodia to join the regional organization; the question of future membership was put on hold. Hun Sen, in turn, rejected Asean's offer to help negotiate a reconciliation with Ranariddh, accusing Asean of interfering in Cambodia's internal affairs.

King Norodom Sihanouk returned to Cambodia from China, where he had been receiving medical treatment, on August 29. His letter nominating Ung Huot and Hun Sen to represent Cambodia at the September meeting of the UN General Assembly signaled his de facto recognition of Ung Huot over his son Ranariddh. The UN Secretariat postponed accreditation of the new government, however, and left Cambodia's seat vacant, even though Hun Sen flew to New York to contest this action. Despite efforts to claim legitimacy, Hun Sen's government lacked credibility. Tourism and foreign investment dried up, industrial production stalled, and exports plummeted. Cambodia faced a profound crisis. In the face of the continuing turmoil, the elections set for May 1998 were postponed.


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