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Milestones in the life of King Norodom Sihanouk

Milestones in the life of King Norodom Sihanouk

Oct 31, 1922: Norodom Sihanouk is born to Prince Norodom Suramarit and Princess

Sisowath Kossomak Nearireath.

Sept 24, 1941: Sihanouk, aged 19, crowned after death of his grandfather King

Sisowath Monivong.

Nov 9, 1953: Sihanouk declares Cambodia independent from French rule; organises

foreign aid to build new deep water port at Kampong Som, renames area Sihanoukville.

1955: Sihanouk abdicates in favor of his father Suramarit; forms his Sangkum

Reastr Nyum party on neutralist policies, wins all Assembly seats and 82 percent

of the vote.

April 3, 1960: Suramarit dies, Sihanouk becomes chief of state and his mother

Kossamak is the symbolic royal leader.

1962: general elections, all 77 Sangkum candidates returned unopposed, Sihanouk

invites left-wingers into cabinet including Khieu Samphan.

1963: Pol Pot becomes leader of Cambodian Communist Party (February). Sihanouk

renounces US aid; USSR and China aid increases; nationalisation of major business

and banks begins.

1964: Cambodia complains to UN Security Council about incursions of US - S.

Vietnam forces. Diplomatic relations broken off.

1966: De Gaulle visits Cambodia, condemns US policy in SE Asia. General elections

marked by left-wing successes. Lon Nol is Prime Minister.

1967: Sihanouk blames Samphan and Hou Yuon for Samlaut rice tax insurrection.

Student demonstrations. Lon Nol resigns after car crash, Sihanouk forms emergency

govt headed by Son Sann.

1968: Khmer Rouge guerilla campaign begins spreading throughout the country;

Lon Nol returns as defence minister.

1969: US begins secret bombing of NVA positions in Cambodia's east; Sihanouk

resumes diplomatic relations with US; NLF forms provisionalrevolutionary govt which

Sihanouk recognises; Lon Nol appointed PM of a right-wing cabinet; Ho Chi Minh dies.

1970: Sihanouk overthrown (March 18); Sihanouk forms National United Front

of Kampuchea; rural resistance grows, trained by Vietnamese; US/ARVN forces invade

Cambodia; Sihanouk and Khmer Rouge form govt-in-exile in China; Oct 9 Khmer Republic

proclaimed and monarchy abolished.

1973: Pol Pot rejects Kissinger's demand for negotiations; Paris Agreement

to end Vietnam war signed; Vietnamese retreat from KR forces; Sihanouk visits liberated

zones; US bombing of Cambodia ceases.

1974: Sihanouk rejects Lon Nol's request for unconditional peace talks. Refugees

flee to Thailand and Vietnam.

1975: April 17, KR capture Phnom Penh; Saigon falls; China promises KR $1

billion in aid; Sihanouk returns.

1976: April 2, Sihanouk resigns as head of state, kept under palace arrest;

Democratic Kampuchea govt announced; KR internal purges

1977: KR attack Vietnam border provinces and begin to exterminate Vietnamese

in Cambodia; Hun Sen flees to Vietnam; China cuts off new aid but signs arms supply

agreement; Pol Pot tours China in triumph.

1978: Vietnam and United Front forces advance into Cambodia.

1979: January 2, Sihanouk flown out to China; DK abandon cities and resume

guerilla war; January 7, liberation forces capture Phnom Penh; January 12, People's

Republic of Kampuchea formed; Sihanouk breaks relations with KR; refugee camps full,

relief operations start.

1980: Currency reintroduced.

1981: Funcinpec organized with Sihanouk as president; guerilla war intensifies.

1982: Coalition Govt of DK formed in Kuala Lumpur, Sihanouk president, Khieu

Samphan vice-president.

1986: CGDK proposals rejected by Phnom Penh and Vietnam.

1987: Hun Sen and Sihanouk talk in Paris of political structure of post-settlement

Cambodia - Hun Sen wants elections before formation of government.

1988: State firms given management autonomy.

1989: State of Cambodia replaces PRK, Buddhism re-established; Paris talks

on Cambodia ends in stalemate over KR involvement in any govt; Vietnam completes

troop withdrawal; KR guerillas capture Pailin.

1990: Security Council agrees on Cambodian peace plan.

1991: ceasefire proclaimed, but KR artillery attack in Battambang; Sihanouk

announces he will return for two months, first visit since 1979; Paris peace agreement

signed by four Cambodian factions.

1992: UNTAC established.

1993: May 23, national elections; September 24, adoption of new constitutional

monarchy, Sihanouk reinstated as King.

1995: Prince Sihamoni in a Post interview declares: "The throne does

not interest me. I have never wanted to be king. If I were asked, I would say no."

1997: Battles in Phnom Penh between Funcinpec and forces loyal to Hun Sen;

Sihanouk offers to abdicate if Hun Sen wants him to.

1998: National elections, two months of deadlock; Sihanouk warns three party

leaders he could abdicate if not resolved.

February 2, 1999: Sam Rainsy says Sihanouk is considering Queen Monineath

or Prince Sihamoni as possible successors.

July 8, 2002: Prince Ranariddh rules out himself and Prince Sirivudh as possible


July 18, 2002: Sihanouk meets opposition MPs to discuss legislation for his


October 9, 2002: Sihanouk, home from medical care in Beijing, says he will

not abdicate: "I have returned to serve the nation with you all, my beloved


March 2003: Critics claim he is too involved in politics. Sihanouk responds

that he will abdicate if asked to do so by the legislature.

July 27, 2003: National elections result in deadlock that lasts nearly 12


August 2003: In a statement on his website, Sihanouk endorses Hun Sen for

Prime Minister, restates his neutrality, and bemoans his lack of "rights or

duty" in the process of forming a new government.

Nov 2003: Sihanouk suggests that in the event of his sudden death Queen Monineath

could serve as the symbol of the monarchy until a successor was appointed. He then

speculates that the Throne Council would be divided between Prince Ranariddh and

Prince Sihamoni.

January 2004: Sihanouk in self-imposed exile in North Korea and receiving

medical treatment in Beijing.

May: Sihanouk invites the CPP and Funcinpec parties for urgent talks in North

Korea, to resolve the deadlock. They decline and Sihanouk calls it "a slap in

the face."

July 6: Sihanouk issues a statement from his residence in Pyongyang, North Korea,

saying he will abdicate when the National Assembly convenes. Later he says he will

postpone a decision for two or three months, then declares he will remain on the

throne after the Buddhist Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong appeals to him not to abdicate.

July 14: The deadlock ends when the National Assembly passes a "package

vote" that critics allege is unconstitutional, and CPP and Funcinpec form a

coalition government.

July 27: Sihanouk makes several threats to abdicate. Hun Sen responds: "We

are politicians, not children. We should not discuss the King's message."

October 6: Sihanouk, warned in a letter from Sam Rainsy that he has heard

protests were being planned for his return to Phnom Penh, writes to PM Hun Sen, Assembly

President Ranariddh, Senate President Chea Sim and Tep Vong, saying he will retire

and urges the Throne Council to quickly appoint a successor. Ranariddh, in tears,

reads the letter to the Assembly and announces that Sihanouk has abdicated. He also

blames Rainsy's message for provoking the King's decision and says Rainsy should

present himself for questioning at the Council of Ministers. There are also threats

to remove Rainsy's Parliamentary immunity so he can be charged. Rainsy leaves the


October 10: Hun Sen says Sihamoni is the only suitable candidate to be the

new king if Sihanouk refuses to withdraw his abdication.

October 11-15: Moving with uncommon speed and efficiency in a week disrupted

by a three-day national holiday, the Senate and Constitutional Council pass a draft

law allowing for the abdication and succession, as the Constitution has no provision

for abdication other than through death.

October 14: The Throne Council is convened and votes unanimously by ballot

at the Royal Palace, to appoint Prince Sihamoni the new King.

October 20: King Sihamoni and his parents arrive from China; National Assembly

votes to grant retired king and queen $5.6m a year from the national budget to allow

them to continue their charity work.


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