T he winning side of the government left no doubt of how it thought the world should
view the biggest event of 1997 - the July explosion of Cambodia's experiment with
democracy. But like it or not, the year's other crises and climaxes also earned Cambodia
worldwide scrutiny and headlines: a deadly grenade attack; a fatal plane crash; and
the show trial and interview of Brother No.1. The Post reviews the year that Pol
Pot said 'My conscience is clear', Prince Ranariddh said 'It appears my generals
were right', and Hun Sen said 'I'm not NATO, I don't need arms reduction'.
The first week of 1997 highlights the differences between the two major parties
in the coalition government. The CPP organizes a massive celebration on January 7
to commemorate the ousting of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. Funcinpec, many of
whose members do not recognize the holiday, focuses their attention instead on commemorating
the combatants and civilians who had died over the past two decades resisting the
Vietnamese-backed regime in Phnom Penh.
An international trafficking ring is busted by Cambodian Interpol with the arrest
of four ethnic Chinese traffickers along with 83 illegal Chinese immigrants. However,
Interpol chief General M Ly Roun Skadavy says that other criminal syndicates are
operating in Cambodia. Officials admit that as many as 10,000 Chinese illegals may
be holed up in the capital.
Skadavy also says that Sino-Khmer mafia are smuggling Cambodian children to the West
to supply a black market in internal organs.
Agriculture Minister Tao Seng Huor says on Jan 6 that the new ban on log exports
is a success, but concedes that the government does not have full control over the
country's dwindling forests.
Strikes at garment factories continue into the new year. Workers at five factories
hold demonstrations and walk-outs demanding better pay and work-place conditions.
Khmer Nation Party leader Sam Rainsy continues to play a key role in organizing the
demonstrations. One protest turns ugly on Jan 4 when workers from the Tack Fat factory
try to march on the National Assembly. Police break up the demonstration with water
cannons. KNP officials and strikers claim they were punched and manhandled by police.
Co-Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, in a foreboding comment on things to come, speaks
to the Post about tensions between the coalition partners: "We have to be very
careful, we fought each other in the past, but finally we formed a coalition government.
If we fight each other again, there will be no winner and no loser."
The inaugural Tiger Phnom Penh International Marathon is held on Jan 12. Neals Strik
of the Netherlands finishes first. The event includes more than 150 entrants from
11 nations, including more than 80 disabled runners.
Authorities in Vietnam seize 6.3 tonnes of Cambodian-grown cannabis off a freighter
in Ho Chi Minh city on Jan 15.
The US-funded Cambodian Genocide Project announces that it had collected enough evidence
to try and convict members of the Khmer Rouge politburo for crimes against humanity
committed during the 1975-1979 Pol Pot regime.
The National Assembly passes, with few dissenting votes, the "First Socioeconomic
Development Plan, 1996-2000".
Son Sann, one of the Kingdom's most prominent elder statesmen, retires quietly from
the National Assembly in mid-January after a high-profile political career spanning
Officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries say that the country's
fish stocks are under threat due to mismanagement and illegal fish exports.
The Cambodian People's Party (CPP) holds a party congress Jan 24-27. The event, which
takes place in an unprecedented level of openness, sees several delegates boldly
question the behavior of Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, particularly over his expensive
rural development programs and his outspoken political style. Hun Sen denies that
he was engaging in "demagogy", a CPP general urges the Prime Minister to
work more with his party and one of Hun Sen's staunchest political supporters, Kun
Kim, is rejected in his bid for membership on the CPP's Central Committee.
An exhibition of Khmer art, entitled "Angkor and Ten Centuries of Khmer Art"
opens in Paris on Jan 31 at the National Galleries of the Grand Palais. Queen Monineath
Sihanouk and French President Jacques Chirac are in attendance.
Hun Sen makes a four-day official visit to Rangoon in an effort to strengthen ties
between Cambodia and Myanmar. The trip is condemned by opposition leader Sam Rainsy
as "an insult against democracy movements".
At the suggestion of Funcinpec, the National United Front (NUF) is established with
the Khmer Nation Party, Son Sann's Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party and the Khmer
Neutral Party joining in the alliance. "If you are in the government, you must
side with the government. When you form an alliance with the opposition, what does
it mean?" complains Secretary of State for Information Khieu Kanharith (CPP).
The Ministry of Health and the WHO kick off a nationwide vaccination campaign against
poliomyelitis on Jan 28. Officials hope that the campaign will lead to the full eradication
of the disease in the Kingdom.
Ten tonnes of looted Angkorian artifacts - the largest shipment ever discovered -
are seized by Siem Reap officials on Jan 30. The artifacts are taken from a truck
manned by soldiers, including bodyguards of the Siem Reap military commander General
Khan Savoeun. Savoeun denies any involvement in the heist.
Cambodian human rights worker Chan Sastra is one of four UN officials killed by
Hutus near the Zairean border in Rwanda on Feb 4.
An increase in the number of death threats against editors and journalists prompts
the League of Cambodian Journalists and the Khmer Journalists Association to call
for action by the government to find the culprits and for newspapers to tone down
their attacks against the Royal family.
Months of tension between CPP and Funcinpec-aligned soldiers in Battambang blow up
with scattered fighting taking place between the two forces. Estimates of the number
of casualties vary. NGO sources say as many as 21 soldiers may have been killed in
Tensions escalate further when around 600 BLDP-aligned, pro-Royalist forces from
Nimith and Thmar Pouk move to within 35km of Battambang. The troops, dubbed "Blue
Khmer", wore bright blue bandannas to distinguish themselves from troops loyal
to the CPP.
Cambodia and South Korea sign investment and technical cooperation accords Feb 10.
The keystone to Pochentong International airport's $100 million new terminal is laid
on Feb 14. The project is an undertaking of Societe Concessionaire de l'Aeroport,
a Franco-Malaysian civil aviation engineering firm.
Srun Vong Vannak, a KNP bodyguard, is arrested Feb 14 for alleged involvement in
the murder of Hun Sen's brother-in-law, Kov Samuth.
Battambang's governor, deputy governor and two military commanders are recalled to
Phnom Penh by order of the two PMs on Feb 16. Relieved of their positions were Ung
Samy, the CPP governor, Serey Kosal, Funcinpec first deputy governor, as well as
Hul Savoan and Kla Chan Sovanarith, the parties' respective military commanders.
Indonesian President Suharto arrives in Phnom Penh on Feb 17 for an official state
visit, his first to Cambodia in more than 30 years.
Funcinpec Generals Nhek Bun Chhay and Khan Savoeun are reported to have sought direct
contact with Khmer Rouge General Ta Mok on Feb 18. There are conflicting reports
on the purposes of the meeting with speculation that the move was intended to secure
the freedom of 15 mainly Funcinpec officials who did not return from an earlier trip
to the KR-controlled area near Anlong Veng.
Hun Sen and Ranariddh sign orders preventing "illegal troop movements"
on Feb 26. King Norodom Sihanouk leaves the country for China, with a statement in
his Palace Bulletin - released just hours after his departure - saying that the Monarch
is considering abdicating.
The National United Front (NUF) holds its official launch on Feb 27. The CPP accuses
Funcinpec of interfering in its internal affairs after First Prime Minister Norodom
Ranariddh says he will send a copy of the NUF platform to CPP President Chea Sim.
Frenchman Amedee Hennion is arrested in Phnom Penh on Feb 28 and accused of paedophilia.
On Mar 1 Funcinpec criticizes the CPP's response to the establishment of NUF,
saying that the reaction is unreasonable.
Srun Vong Vannak, Prum Mean Rith and Sos Kasem appear in court Mar 3 accused in the
death of Kov Samuth. Police say the three men confessed to the crime. Tioulong Saumoura,
wife of KNP leader Sam Rainsy, says the three were pressured by police to confess
in order to damage the party.
Canadian-German Manfred Horst Albert is arrested on Mar 4 for allegedly engaging
in paedophilia. Police pledge an on-going crackdown on child sex crimes.
On Mar 5 the two PMs try to make amends at a luncheon with the entire Council of
Ministers at a Phnom Penh restaurant. The PMs hug each other and pledge to cooperate.
Tensions increase in the area around the KR-controled Anlong Veng area as the fate
of 15 Funcinpec negotiators led by Siem Reap deputy governor Hem Bun Heng remains
a mystery. RCAF increases troop strength in Siem Reap province as a means of pressuring
the Khmer Rouge.
Statements by King Norodom Sihanouk that he wants to abdicate the throne draw fire
from Hun Sen who says if the King does abdicate then the elections must be postponed,
and suggests that Royals should be banned from politics.
Peace marchers led by the Venerable Maha Ghosananda begin the Dhammayietra VI on
Mar 20 in Battambang, heading for Pailin. The peace march arrives in Pailin Mar 25.
The Venerable blesses former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, sprinkling water
from a plastic bottle on his hands, but moves on without paying him special attention.
Funcinpec and the CPP agree on Mar 25 that elections will be held in November 1998.
A peaceful, legal protest led by KNP leader Sam Rainsy is attacked by terrorists
who throw four grenades at the event on Mar 30 in front of the National Assembly.
At least 16 people are killed and over 100 wounded. Rainsy accuses Hun Sen of being
behind the attack. Ranariddh says that he cannot trust the Interior Ministry to investigate
The First Southeast Asian Biennial Film Festival begins on the evening of Mar 30
with a Gala Dinner and film screening at the Royal Palace.
In response to the Mar 30 grenade attack, 42 Funcinpec and BLDP MPs send a letter
to UN Sec-Gen Kofi Annan on Apr 2 requesting "appropriate intervention"
by the UN in Cambodian affairs "to address the situation". The letter includes
the comment: "The biggest human rights abuser is the most powerful man in the
Two containers with 6 tonnes of marijuana are seized in Sihanoukville on Apr 2. Accusations
fly back and forth between Funcinpec and CPP officials over who was involved in the
On Apr 3 Hun Sen denies involvement in the grenade attack and says the protest organizers
should be investigated.
Chamber of Commerce President Teng Boon Ma shoots out the tire of a Royal Air Cambodge
plane on the tarmac at Pochentong airport on Apr 7. Boon Ma says he was upset about
Co-Minister of Interior You Hockry says on Apr 9 that all demonstrations will be
banned. Confusion arises as Sar Kheng later denies that any such ban is in place.
In response to Ranariddh's request that the UN should conduct an investigation into
the Mar 30 grenade attack, Hun Sen says on April 10 "The essence of power is
that when you talk you are listened to and respected," adding that Ranariddh
should resign if he doesn't trust a government ministry.
RCAF is ordered on Apr 13 to halt its dry season advance on Anlong Veng.
Funcinpec MP and Minister of State Ung Phan says on Apr 15 that he is splitting from
Ranariddh and would form a rival Funcinpec bloc. He accuses Ranariddh of "blunders"
which threatened to lead Cambodia to "great disaster".
Exiled Prince Norodom Sirivudh, saying he was prepared to go to jail, tries to return
to Cambodia on Apr 15 but is prevented from boarding a Dragonair flight in Hongkong.
Siem Reap Governor Toan Chay announces on Apr 17 that he will join Ung Phan in his
efforts to set up a new Funcinpec party. MP and Banteay Meanchey governor Duong Khem
says that he will join too.
Ranariddh accuses Hun Sen on Apr 18 of masterminding the Funcinpec split and interfering
in his party's internal affairs.
On Apr 19 Hun Sen invites the press corps to his heavily-guarded Takhmau residence
for a press conference where he announces his support for Ung Phan and says that
he has the names of 11 other Funcinpec MPs who will join Phan.
Former Khmer Rouge commanders of the Democratic National United Movement (DNUM) say
they will not field candidates for the 1998 elections. However, one official says
that if Funcinpec wins the election and is prevented from taking power, DNUM would
use its military force to support the victor.
Three officials from the US Federal Bureau of Investigation arrive in Phnom Penh
to assist with the investigation into the Mar 30 grenade attack.
King Sihanouk says in a statement dated Apr 25 from Beijing that he cannot interfere
in the political crisis in Phnom Penh and that he would no longer talk about abdication.
Cambodia's national football team ties Indonesia 1-1 in an Asian Group Five qualifying
match at Phnom Penh's Olympic Stadium on Apr 27.
Some 600 government, provincial, military and police officials meet at the Chatomuk
Theatre on Apr 29 to review the country's security and political situation. The meeting
is convened by the Joint Commission for Abnormal Conflict Resolution, made up of
the Ministers of Interior and Defense, and the chiefs of the Royal Cambodian Armed
Forces (RCAF) and the National Police.
A local television station in Sihanouk-ville is attacked with AK47s and B40 rockets
on May 4. One man - TVK employee Pich Hem - dies in the attack.
Hun Sen and Ranariddh embrace each other at a May 7 Council of Ministers meeting
and agree to tone down their war of words. Less than a day later Ranariddh attacks
Hun Sen in a speech in Siem Reap warning that Hun Sen would "bring a communist
dictatorship" if elected.
National Police deputy director Yeng Marady says on May 12 that Hun Sen bodyguards
would be interviewed in relation to the investigation of the Mar 30 grenade attack.
"I'm not NATO, I don't need arms reduction," says Hun Sen on May 12 in
response to suggestions by parliamentarians that he reduce his bodyguard contingent.
Khieu Samphan, on KR radio from Anlong Veng on May 21, pledges his new National Solidarity
Party's support for the Funcinpec-initiated NUF.
Ranariddh tells reporters on May 23 that if Khieu Samphan gets a Royal amnesty and
wants to join the NUF, "I don't have any choice but to simply say yes".
A container load of weapons labeled "spare parts" and addressed to Prince
Norodom Ranariddh is seized at the port of Sihanoukville on May 25. The 78 cases
of armaments include rocket launchers, rifles, pistols and ammunition.
An alleged assassination attempt on Hun Sen takes place on May 27 when a single bullet
is fired at the premier's motorcade near Takhmau. One bodyguard is injured when the
bullet pierces his helmet.
The Ministry of Interior commission to investigate the Mar 30 grenade attack releases
on May 28 three composite sketches - drawn by FBI artists - of individuals wanted
CMAC detonates a series of explosive devices on May 30, sending an already edgy Phnom
Penh into a state of near panic. Shops close hurriedly and schools send students
ASEAN foreign ministers decide on May 31 to allow Cambodia to join the regional organization
at its upcoming annual meeting on July 23.
Nhek Bun Chhay claims a deal has been struck for KR chiefs Pol Pot, Ta Mok, and
Son Sen to go into exile, clearing the way for Khieu Samphan to defect to the government.
A June 5 statement from the Committee for Cooperation on Cambodia affirms the non-partisan
nature of the aid groups and urges the government and political parties to respect
King Sihanouk, from Beijing on June 9, says he will never grant amnesties to Pol
Pot and Ta Mok.
Khmer Rouge nominal leader Khieu Samphan accuses Son Sen of treason in a June 11
KR radio broadcast. Samphan says Sen and his wife Yun Yat have been arrested. It
is later learned that the two, along with at least 10 family members, had been executed
June 10 on the orders of Pol Pot.
KR radio falls silent on June 13. Officials in Phnom Penh claim reports of fighting
in Anlong Veng.
Ranariddh says June 16 that Pol Pot should be caught dead or alive within two days,
citing information from General Nhek Bun Chhay. In a surprise revelation, Ranariddh
says he met with Khieu Samphan three weeks prior, but refuses to provide details.
Hun Sen says that any negotiations with Khieu Samphan are illegal.
After a four-day silence, KR radio begins broadcasting again on June 17, delivering
an unprecedented denouncement of Pol Pot as a traitor.
A 90-minute gun battle erupts between bodyguards loyal to Prince Ranariddh and National
Police Chief Hok Lundy on Norodom Boulevard on the night of June 17. At least 14
explosions from the use of RPGs are heard; one shell explodes in the garden of the
American Ambassador Ken Quinn's house. Two Funcinpec guards are killed and three
people injured. Both sides blame the other for the incident.
Funcinpec General Nhek Bun Chhay claims on June 22 that he has personally seen Pol
Pot in Anlong Veng where he was under house arrest.
Ranariddh says he wants to send one or two journalists to Anlong Veng to take pictures
of Pol Pot.
Prince Ranariddh leaves Cambodia on July 4 at the advice of his military advisors
("It appears my generals were right" he says later). Two days of fighting
between forces loyal to the respective Prime Ministers rock Phnom Penh on July 5-6.
Casualty figures vary widely. A police source tells Reuters that 58 were killed during
the fighting and as many as 200 wounded. Forces loyal to General Nhek Bun Chhay are
driven from the city. Thousands of civilians flee the city in panic. Funcinpec is
left in total disarray.
Hun Sen says the military action was necessary to prevent a coup d'état by
Ranariddh. Ranariddh says from abroad that he has been ousted by a Hun Sen-led coup
d'état. CPP-aligned troops take control of Siem Reap and Battambang. Funcinpec
troops are either disarmed or head for the bush.
Widespread looting by military and police takes place in Phnom Penh on July 7. Many
Funcinpec officials go into hiding. Funcinpec Secretary of State for Interior Ho
Sok is arrested by CPP troops, taken to the Ministry of Interior and executed. Other
officials are feared dead.
Thousands of expatriates leave Phnom Penh on emergency flights organized by Malaysia,
Thailand, Australia, Singapore and the Philippines on July 8-10. Human rights officials
escort scores of political figures and family members fearing for their lives to
the airport for evacuation abroad.
ASEAN decides on July 10 to postpone indefinitely Cambodia's entry into the regional
organization. The US announces a 30-day suspension of its foreign aid program.
King Sihanouk says from Beijing on July 12 "I cannot present myself as a 'judge'
with regard to a 'coup' or 'non-coup d'état'."
Funcinpec remnants still in Cambodia nominate Ung Huot on July 16 to replace Ranariddh
as First Prime Minister.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas leads an ASEAN mission to Phnom Penh to meet
Hun Sen. ASEAN's offer to help mediate a solution is rebuffed by Hun Sen on July
Troops loyal to Ranariddh are pushed back in Siem Reap province, retreating to the
border enclave of O'Smach, forcing thousands of refugees across into Thailand. After
17 days on the run, Nhek Bun Chhay surfaces in O'Smach.
US journalist Nate Thayer attends a "People's Tribunal" in Anlong Veng
on July 25 where Pol Pot is publicly denounced by his former KR subordinates. It
is the first time in almost two decades that a journalist has seen Pol Pot.
The National Assembly, deadlocked for more than three months, re-opens on July 28.
Four survivors from the negotiating team that flew to Anlong Veng on Feb 14 are freed
by the Khmer Rouge on July 30. They say the other members of the team including Hem
Bun Heng were killed shortly after landing in KR territory.
About 1,300 monks, nuns and lay persons - led by Maha Ghosananda - undertake a
peace march through downtown Phnom Penh and gather for a meditation session at Independence
Monument on Aug 3.
The National Assembly votes to remove Ranariddh's parliamentary immunity on Aug 6
and Ung Huot is approved as the new First Prime Minister by a vote of 86 in favor,
4 against, 6 abstentions and 3 invalid votes. Two days later, the military court
issues two arrest warrants for Ranariddh.
Ranariddh-loyalist forces remain in O'Smach under intermittent attack from CPP soldiers.
Reports indicate that Nhek Bun Chhay's soldiers are cooperating with Khmer Rouge
from Anlong Veng. More than 30,000 refugees cross into Thailand through O'Smach.
DNUM says it will stay neutral.
Ranariddh and other opposition politicians including members of the KNP and part
of the divided BLDP set up the Union of Cambodian Democrats (UCD) from Bangkok.
King Sihanouk threatens from Beijing on Aug 11 to abdicate the throne if Hun Sen
Chea Sim, Hun Sen and Ung Huot fly to Beijing to meet with the King on Aug 12. There
is confusion over whether or not the King gives his approval of Ung Huot as the new
First Prime Minister.
Opposition newspapers start re-appearing on news stands in Phnom Penh, amid allegations
they are Hun Sen-controlled. Hun Sen encourages political exiles who fled Cambodia
after the July violence to return home, but he insists that Ranariddh must face trial.
Hun Sen lashes out at human rights organizations - particularly the United Nations
Center for Human Rights - saying on Aug 18 that they should not accuse the government
of a campaign of systematic torture and executions without proof.
Former Head of State Pen Sovann emerges from hiding to leave Cambodia on Aug 22.
He is escorted to the airport by diplomats and departs for Malaysia.
On Aug 25 the UN Center for Human Rights submits a report to the government detailing
41 cases of extra-judicial killings of senior Funcinpec military leaders and soldiers
loyal to them and over 60 instances of "cremations of individuals in suspicious
circumstances" during and after the July putsch.
On Aug 25 Teng Boon Ma denies earlier press reports that he funded the July 5-6 fighting.
He says he gave $1 million to Hun Sen to lure soldiers back to their bases and stop
Ranariddh-loyalist General Long Sereyroth says on Aug 25 that the Khmer Rouge soldiers
cooperating with his troops in the O'Smach area are "defectors".
After a six-month absence, King Sihanouk returns to Cambodia on Aug 29, flying directly
to Siem Reap, to be "far from some politicians in Phnom Penh."
Hun Sen unveils an 8-point plan to fight crime and ensure national stability which
includes seizing illegal weapons, removing illegal checkpoints, reducing the number
of bodyguards and outlawing the use of tinting on car windows.
Minister of Finance Keat Chhon says on Sep 1 that GNP growth estimates for 1997
are being revised downwards from 6.5% to not more than 3% and that Cambodia has effectively
lost $100m because of aid freezes.
Vietnam Airlines Flight VN815 crash lands during its approach to Pochentong Airport
on Sep 3. All but two of the 66 passengers and crew die in the accident. Bodies of
dead and dying passengers are looted by police and villagers.
Srun Vong Vannak is convicted of conspiracy to kill Hun Sen's brother-in-law, Kov
Samuth, during a trial on Sep 9. The judge sentences him to 13 years in jail.
The National Assembly rejects the government's proposed cabinet reshuffle Sep 16,
a result which MPs and observers say was less a vote for democracy and more indicative
of ongoing divisions within Funcinpec.
Backers of a global treaty to ban landmines call its adoption on Sep 17 "a gift
to the world" and say the treaty will be especially welcomed in Cambodia.
The UN Credentials Committee decides Sep 19 to leave Cambodia's seat vacant at the
UN, a serious blow to Hun Sen's efforts to maintain international recognition.
The International Monetary Fund announces its suspension of operations in Cambodia
due to the government's inability to meet structural reform criteria. Cambodia loses
$60 million in balance of payments support loans.
More than 20,000 refugees flee to Thailand from the Samlot area as fighting between
government troops and soldiers loyal to Ranariddh increases.
In an Oct 5 interview with Palace staff, the King says he would commit suicide
if he were not a Buddhist, because "the end of my life is full of shame, humiliation
The Funcinpec Undersecretary of State for Defense Krouch Yoeum's body is unearthed
on Oct 15 in Kampong Speu. His hands had been cut off and his legs bound.
American journalist Nate Thayer returns to Anlong Veng where he interviews Pol Pot
and Ta Mok on Oct 16. Pol Pot expresses no remorse for the crimes against humanity
committed during his years in power. Mok denounces Pot, blaming him for hundreds
of thousands of deaths.
Self-exiled parliamentarian Son Chhay returns to Phnom Penh Oct 17, the first to
do so since the July fighting. MPs Om Radsady and Tao Seng Hour return quietly to
resume their seats at the National Assembly.
The Ministry of Planning and the UNDP release a report Oct 17 that says the AIDS
epidemic could cost Cambodia $3 billion and infect up to one million people over
the next nine years.
The CPP holds a party congress Oct 25-27. The CPP Standing Committee endorses Hun
Sen's July 5-6 military strike as "legal and correct" but urges that negotiations
be held with deposed Prince Ranariddh and his followers.
King Sihanouk departs for China on Oct 25, his efforts at mediating a solution to
the political impasse having been rebuffed by Hun Sen.
Funcinpec Deputy Chief of Espionage and Intelligence Chao Sambath's body is positively
identified in Kampong Speu by relatives on Oct 28. A UN official says the case is
"an obvious execution and torture."
Former Khmer Rouge Foreign Minister and now DNUM founder Ieng Sary returns to Phnom
Penh - his first visit since he and the rest of the Pol Pot regime's leadership fled
the capital before advancing Vietnamese forces in 1979. Sary meets with Hun Sen and
other senior officials. At an Oct 30 press conference, Sary appears to side with
Hun Sen rather than Ranariddh and his Funcinpec loyalists. Sary says that the July
5-6 fighting was not a coup d'état and pledges DNUM cooperation with the government
and army, including access through Pailin and Phnom Malai for RCAF soldiers.
Hun Sen makes a trip to Japan where he says on Nov 7 that Ranariddh could participate
in next year's elections if he requests and is given an amnesty by the King. Ranariddh
replies on Nov 10 that he is not guilty of any crimes and is not prepared to submit
himself to a Cambodian court.
UN human rights envoy Thomas Hammarberg says in a Nov 13 report on the state of human
rights in Cambodia to the UN General Assembly that Cambodia's Gendarmerie, a special
police unit set up with French assistance, should be disbanded if it can't be "brought
under the rule of law."
Hun Sen and Ung Huot sent a letter to Thomas Ham-marberg on Nov 18 lambasting other
aspects of his human rights report to the General Assembly, calling it "unfair,"
"unsubstantiated," and politically "biased."
Forced conscription is reported in many outlying districts of Siem Reap province
as the government beefs up force strength to maintain pressure against Ranariddh
loyalist forces in O'Smach.
The traditional Water Festival takes place in Phnom Penh Nov 15-18. Hundreds of thousands
of people, although fewer than previous years, flock to the riverside to watch the
The UN General Assembly passes a resolution on Nov 26 which for the first time condemns
the crimes of the KR and calls for concrete actions to be taken against top leaders.
KNP leader Sam Rainsy returns to Cambodia. He proceeds directly to the park in front
of the National Assembly for a ceremony to commemorate those killed there on Mar
The International Ramayana Dance Festival takes place in Siem Reap Nov 29-Dec 2.
Dance troupes from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and India take part.
On Dec 1-2, 25 members of the UCD arrive in Phnom Penh to see if they can arrange
for the safe return of all other self-exiled politicians. They are led by Prince
Sisowath Sirirath, Cambodia's ambassador to the UN.
King Sihanouk returns to Phnom Penh on Dec 3, the first time the monarch had been
in the capital since the July fighting.
Sam Rainsy and Hun Sen meet for three hours at the second Prime Minister's Takhmau
residence on Dec 8. The two erstwhile enemies emerge from the meeting all smiles.
The Chinese government provides 186 military trucks and jeeps to RCAF on Dec 9 which
critics argue is part of an illegal loan that was not approved by the National Assembly.
Double amputee Tun Channareth, a Cambodian representative at the Nobel Peace Prize
ceremony in Oslo on Dec 10, receives a medal and diploma on behalf of the International
Campaign to Ban Landmines.
Sam Rainsy has an audience with King Sihanouk on Dec 12. After the meeting Rainsy
says the King will grant an amnesty to Prince Ranariddh, if he is convicted, without
waiting for anyone to request it.
The British environmental watchdog group Global Witness says at a press conference
on Dec 15 that Cambodia's stocks of saleable timber will be depleted in three to
five years unless the industry is properly regulated.
Human rights workers discover a ring of human traffickers that sends Cambodian boys
and men to Thailand where they are drugged to keep them docile. On Dec 17, 46 victims
arrive in Sihanoukville after having been rescued from the racket.
After extensive debate, the Electoral law is finally passed by the National Assembly
on Dec 19. The government and National Assembly also decide that the national polls
will be held on July 26, l998.