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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Gen Sutsakhan dies

Gen Sutsakhan dies

G ENERAL Sak Sutsakhan, a senior army commander during the 1970-75 war against

the Khmer Rouge, died on Friday from a heart attack, a government official

said.

Deputy Information Minster Khieu Kanharith said Sutsakhan's body

was lying in state at the defence ministry. He was 68 and had been suffering

from high blood pressure, sources said.

According to historian David

Chandler in his book "The Tragedy of Cambodian History," Sutsakhan's military

career began in 1942 after he joind an elite paramilitary group known as the

"Green Shirts" - mobilized by the Japanese occupation army.

He rose to

become defence minister and deputy chief of staff in the 1970-75 Lon Nol

government.

He was regarded as one of Lon Nol's few able military

commanders and managed to escape into Thailand after the Khmer Rouge takeover in

April 1975. A Vietnamese invasion in December 1978 ousted the maoist

guerrillas.

Sutsakhan lived in exile in the US until 1981 and then

returned to the border to head the nationalist forces of Son Sann, fighting a

guerrilla war against the Hanoi-installed Heng Samrin government.

After a

policy disagreement with Son Sann in the mid 1980s, Sutsakhan formed a breakaway

faction called the Khmer Peoples National Liberation Armed

Forces.

Following the signing of the 1991 Paris Peace agreement he

entered politics by announcing the formation of the Liberal Democratic Party.

But it failed to secure a single seat in the 1993 elections.

Despite this

setback, Sutsakhan chief was appointed a military adviser to co-premiers Prince

Norodom Ranariddh and Hun Sen and was a member of King Sihanouk's military

council.

King Sihanouk described Sutsakhan as a "grand patriot" who

played an important role in the peace process. -Reuters

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