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State of Cambodia (SOC)

In early 1989, even before the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops, the Peoples Republic of Kampuchea [PRK] began making changes. A variety of reforms, some simply cosmetic and others more substantial, were designed to improve the PRK’s image abroad as well as to rally public support. The name of the government was changed to the State of Cambodia (SOC), and a new national flag and anthem were adopted.

Buddhism was reinstated as the state religion, and collectivization was ended and people were given the right to buy and sell land and to pass it to their children. Although the government retained tight control of the economy in principle, free market trade flourished, and black market goods flowed in from Thailand, and across Cambodia from Thailand to Vietnam. But the government stood firm on the question of one party rule.

The 1991 Paris Peace Accords mandated democratic elections and a ceasefire, which were not fully respected by the Khmer Rouge initially. UN-sponsored elections in 1993 helped restore some semblance of normalcy under a coalition government and ended a period of a UN transitional authority that had existed in the country since 1989. As part of the election results, a new constitution was promulgated and the country was renamed once again as the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The early years were dominated by the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), the organizational embodiment of the Paris Peace Accords. UNTAC’s main task was to provide essential administration and security functions in the country long enough to conduct national elections. UNTAC was the most complex—and, at $1.9 billion over two years, the most expensive peacekeeping operation in the UN's history, involving 22,000 civilian and military peacekeepers from 46 countries. Its prime mission was to create conditions for "free, fair, and open" national elections to choose a new government.

To ensure a neutral political environment, UNTAC was supposed to exercise direct supervision over all "existing administrative structures" acting in the fields of finance, information, foreign affairs, national defense, and public security. This was the most dficult civil mandate to carry out and the one in which the framers of the Paris Agreements had been most negligent in addressing realistically. UNTAC was empowered to exercise a lesser degree of scrutiny over other components of the existing administrative structures; the criterion was whether such offices could have any influence on the outcome of the elections. In theory, UNTAC's operations were designed to unfold in a series of four phases after October 1991: preparatory (through May 1992), cantonment and demobilization (June-September 1992); electoral process (October 1992-April 19931, and postelection (May-October 1993).

Khmer Rouge refusal to cooperate in the peace process began early in 1992. The UN special representative had kept the door ajar for the Khmer Rouge's political wing, the Party of Democratic Kampuchea, to join the electoral process at the last moment even though the party had failed to cooperate in the steps prescribed under the Paris Agreements. The net result was that the Khmer Rouge, by their own actions, excluded themselves.

The inability of UNTAC to gain access to the administrative structure of the Khmer Rouge PDK gave rise to a hardening of the position of SOC led by Hun Sen regarding supervision and control by UNTAC of SOC administrative structures. This growing reluctance, while having emerged as early as October 1992, became particularly evident as the military situation deteriorated and applied to nearly all fields of control and supervision entrusted to UNTAC.

The electoral campaign officially began on 07 April 1993, and the 20 political parties participated actively. An election was organized and carried out from 23 to 28 May 1993. The election of 120 members to the constituent assembly was held throughout Cambodia on a provincial basis in accordance with a system of proportional representation. FUNCINPEC had won 1,824,188 votes, or 45.47 per cent, to CPP's 1,533,471 votes, or 38.23 per cent. BLDP won 152,764 votes, or 3.81 per cent, and the other 17 political parties won the remainder. The number of seats won in the constituent assembly was 58 for FUNCINPEC, 51 for CPP, 10 for BLDP and 1 for a fourth political party, MOLINAKA.

The result of the election gave a clear majority to the non-communist parties which garnered a total of 69 seats. These parties included FUNCINPEC (Front Uni National pour un Cambodge Independent Neutre Pacific et Cooperatif) led by Prince Norodom Ranariddh, Buddhist Liberal Democratic (BLD) led by former Prime Minister Son Sann,, and Moulinaka (Movement de Liberalization National du Kampuchea) led by Ros Roeun. Despite the advantage of the incumbency and a deliberate campaign of intimidation and political killings of members of the opposition parties, the CPP (formerly PRK), led by former senior Khmer Rouge officials, Chea Sim, and Hun Sen managed to gain only 51 seats.

The results came as a shock to the incumbent Cambodian People's Party. Accusing its opponents of fraud, the CPP refused to cooperate in the formation of a new government and threatened the secession of several eastern provinces. On 10 June 193, a dissident group led by Prince Norodom Chakropong (Norodom Ranariddh's half-brother) announced that eight eastern provinces bordering Vietnam would secede from the country. Funcinpec offices in several of these provinces were burned and party personnel assaulted.

In retrospect, it is apparent that the secession was a ploy by Hun Sen to force Ranariddh into powersharing. King Sihanouk then brokered an agreement under which the parties agreed to share power equally, and Hun Sen and Ranariddh served as “co-prime ministers.” After the threat of secession of seven eastern provinces by the CPP with a tacit approval of the King, the new coalition government coalition was imposed on the victorious non-communist parties.

The duly elected Constituent Assembly began work on 14 June 1993. At the inaugural session, it adopted a resolution to make Prince Sihanouk Head of State retroactive to 1970, thus making the coup d'état of 18 March 1970 null and void. The Assembly gave the Prince full powers as head of State. The following day, Prince Sihanouk proposed the formation of an Interim Joint Administration (GNPC) with Prince Ranariddh and Mr. Hun Sen as Co-chairmen.

On 21 September 1993, the Constituent Assembly adopted the new Constitution. The vote was 113 in favor and 5 against, with two abstentions. The mandate entrusted to UNTAC was concluded on 24 September 1993 when Prince Norodom Sihanouk formally promulgated the new Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia, making the country a constitutional monarchy, independent, sovereign, peaceful, neutral and non-aligned. The same day, Prince Sihanouk was elected King of Cambodia by the Royal Council of the Throne. In accordance with the Constitution and the Paris Agreements, the Constituent Assembly was transformed into a legislative assembly. The King appointed Prince Norodom Ranariddh, leader of FUNCINPEC, first Prime Minister in the new Government and Mr. Hun Sen, leader of CPP, second Prime Minister.

For a short period they achieved stability, principally by consolidating power over separate parts of the country through complex and interrelated networks of clientelism and the embezzling of public revenues. In coalition Hun Sen and the CPP not only obtained the crucial post of Second Prime Minister, but also the important post of Chairman of the National Assembly. To lock in their position in any decision making in the National Assembly, the CPP succeeded in imposing the rule of two thirds majority in any vote in the national Assembly. FUNCINPEC was given the post of First Prime Minister. They co-managed major ministries such as Defense, Interior. The economic ministries were split between CPP and FUNCINPEC. The army, the police, and civil administration remained totally in the hands of the CPP.

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Page last modified: 02-06-2012 17:25:33 ZULU