Cambodia. According to
Countryaah, Cambodia's internal riots flared up again into open
military violence that drove thousands of people to flight
and threatened to wreck the relative peace that the 1993 UN
elections created. When grenades killed 16 people at a
political opposition meeting in Phnom Penh in late March,
many Cambodian People's Party (CPP) suspects, led by Second
Prime Minister Hun Sen. Three months later, fights broke out
in the capital between CPP troops and allies loyal to First
Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh's (son of King
Sihanouk) party FUNCINPEC, since the election in government
alliance with CPP. In early July, Hun Sen stood as a victor
in Phnom Penh and declared Ranariddh deposed. This fled the
country with about 20 of his party's MPs.
New first prime minister became Ung Huot, a member of the
FUNCINPEC faction that has stayed in Phnom Penh. Hun Sen's
coup was, however, condemned by the outside world, and
Southeast Asia's cooperation body ASEAN suspended K's
planned membership. In the UN, the country's place was left
vacant. King Sihanouk, who returned from China in the fall,
refused to bless the regime that overthrew his son but
offered to mediate. Hun Sen said that Ranariddh was welcome
home but that he must be investigated for smuggling weapons
and cooperating with the guerrilla Red Khmer.
In the countryside, FUNCINPEC continued its opposition to
CPP. In August, Ranariddh's troops were forced back to
northern K. Tens of thousands of civilians fled into
In July, images worldwide were circulated by Red Khmer's
notorious leader Pol Pot, who has not been seen since 1979.
Journalist Nate Thayer had filmed in the jungle party Anlong
Veng when a gray, disease-marked Pol Pot was imprisoned by
his former comrades for a lifetime of "treason against the
nation. ". Many dismissed the trial as a spectacle of the
divided guerrilla to clean up its bloodstained facade. In an
interview for Thayer, Pol Pot claimed that he was innocent
of the genocide under the rule of the Red Khmer in 1975-79
and that he had no regrets.
Funded by the Japanese government, Spien Kizuna opened
the bridge over the Cambodian part of the Mekong River. The
bridge is 1½ km long and is located 75 km northeast of the
capital. The government expects the opening to stimulate
domestic trade, and strengthen relations with Laos and
Vietnam, which the river is also going through.
In February 2002, local elections were held for the first
time in many years. She Sen's party, Pracheachon won the
election in 1597 of the country's 1620 municipalities,
Funcinpec won in 13, and Sam Rainsy's party won in 10.
Although the election was not completely free and was
conducted in a very violent atmosphere - at least 20
candidates from Funcinpec and PSR were killed during the
election campaign - then the election is expected to have a
positive impact in the longer term.
In March, the government set a deadline for the UN on
when the negotiations for prosecution of Khmer Rouge leaders
should begin. Already in April 1999, Cambodia had reached an
agreement with the United Nations on the establishment of a
tribunal to prosecute Khmer Rouge leaders for their crimes
against humanity under Pol Pot's rule. According to the
government, the low-ranking leaders should not be
prosecuted. The process should instead be directed at those
leaders who had a direct responsibility for the genocide.
However, in February 2002, the United Nations withdrew its
support for the process because the organization doubted
that the Court could achieve sufficient independence and
impartiality, as national law is in agreement with the UN.
The government accepted the transfer of 900 man-days to
the United States. They had fled Vietnam from Cambodia in
2001 as a result of the persecution they were facing from
the Vietnamese government. By then, human rights groups had
condemned a repatriation agreement between Pnomh Penh and
Hanoi because it opened up a forced expulsion of the
refugees to their homeland. In February 2002, a Vietnamese
newspaper had for the first time accused Cambodia of
forcibly repatriating the Montagnards.
Following intense negotiations, Cambodia was admitted to
the WTO in September 2003 during the organization's summit
in Cancun, Mexico. This allowed Cambodia to achieve a higher
degree of economic integration regionally and globally. The
country also entered into a bilateral trade agreement with