People's Republic of Kampuchea

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សាធារណរដ្ឋប្រជាមានិត កម្ពុជា

Sathéaranakrâth Pracheameanit Kâmpŭchéa
People's Republic of Kampuchea
Flag of Cambodia
Coat of arms of Cambodia
flag coat of arms
Official language Khmer
Capital Phnom Penh
Form of government People's Republic
Government system Socialist one-party system
Head of state President Heng Samrin (1979-1993)
Head of government Prime Minister Pen Sovann (1981)
Prime Minister Chan Sy (1982–1984)
Prime Minister Hun Sen
surface 181,040 km²
currency Riel
National anthem revised Nokoreach ; de facto since 1990
Time zone UTC + 7h
Map of Cambodia - Base CIA.png

People's Republic of Kampuchea ( Khmer សាធារណរដ្ឋប្រជាមានិត កម្ពុជា, Sathéaranakrâth Pracheameanit Kâmpŭchéa ; English People's Republic of Kampuchea , PRK; French République populaire du Kampuchéa , RPK) was the name of Cambodia from 1979 to 1989. The PRK was established after the overthrow of the Democratic Kampuchea (i.e. the Red Khmer under Pol Pot ) was founded by the Salvation Front , a group of Cambodian communist and non-communist critics of the regime. The establishment under Vietnamese control was made possible by the invasion of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, supported by the Salvation Front , which had driven out the army of the Khmer Rouge. These had completely destroyed the country's institutions, infrastructure and intelligence.

The PRK had Vietnam and the Soviet Union as its main allies. However, it did not achieve recognition by the United Nations because of rejection by the People's Republic of China , the United Kingdom , the United States and the ASEAN countries. The Cambodian seat was in 1982 Kuala Lumpur based coalition government of Democratic Kampuchea awarded (CGDK), a coalition of the Khmer Rouge ( Khieu Samphan ) with the two non-Communist guerrilla factions FUNCINPEC under Norodom Sihanouk and National Liberation Front of the Khmer (KPNLF) by Son Sann . The PRK was nonetheless considered the de facto government of Cambodia between 1979 and 1993, albeit with limited international recognition.

In early May 1989, the PRK the name Cambodia recover by itself in the last four years of its existence State Cambodia (English State of Cambodia called, SOC). The SOC retained much of the leadership of the PRK and its one-party structure while transitioning. The PRK / SOC existed as a socialist state from 1979 to 1991, when the single ruling party gave up its Marxist-Leninist ideology. In 1989/1990, Vietnam withdrew its troops after the collapse of communism and the associated reduction in support from the Eastern bloc and due to pressure from the USA and China. After the Paris Conference on October 23, 1991, the PRK was placed under UN administration ( UNTAC ), with the previous government formally remaining in office. After holding free elections for the first time since the 1950s, the constitution of what is now the Kingdom of Cambodia was adopted on September 24, 1993, thereby restoring the Kingdom of Cambodia.

1987 Heike Löschmann, Nuth Kim Lay, deputy chairperson of the Association of Revolutionary Women of Kampuchea (VRFK), and Res Sivanna, deputy head of the international relations department of the VRFK, at the congress of the Democratic Women's Association of Germany in 1987
Solidarity in Zella-Mehlis , GDR , with the children of the People's Republic of Kampuchea at the time of the famine in 1979/1980



On December 2, 1978 in Hanoi , the Kampuchean United Front for National Salvation (KUFNS; khm សាមគ្គី សង្គ្រោះ ជាតិ កម្ពុជា;. French Front Uni National pour le Salut du Kampuchea , FUNSK; German united front for national salvation from Kampuchea ) established (often simply Salvation Front or FUNSK according to the French abbreviation), with the aim of driving out the Khmer Rouge. Vietnamese military units began informally on December 11, 1978, and formally began to occupy Cambodia on December 25, 1978. Over 100,000 Vietnamese soldiers and 20,000 Cambodians in exile marched into Cambodia. The decision of the People's Republic of China on January 5, 1979 not to support the Khmer Rouge was decisive for the success of the invasion . On January 7, 1979 the Vietnamese took the already deserted Phnom Penh .

The Salvation Front was a heterogeneous group of communist and non-communist Cambodians in exile. Under the leadership of Heng Samrin and Pen Sovann , the front was established on December 2, 1978 in a zone liberated from the Khmer Rouge. Of the fourteen members of the front central committee, the two most important leaders, Heng Samrin and Chea Sim, became president and vice-president, respectively. Both were former leaders of the Communist Party of Cambodia (KCP). Ros Samay, Secretary General of the Salvation Front , was a former KCP staff officer in a military unit. The government of Democratic Kampuchea called the Salvation Front a "Vietnamese political organization with a Khmer name". The initial goals of the front were to rally the people under its banner, overthrow the Pol Pot regime, rebuild the country, work out a new constitution for a democratic state moving towards socialism , and build mass organizations and a revolutionary army. His foreign policy goals included non-alignment, mediation with neighbors and an end to the border war with Vietnam that had been sparked by the Pol Pot regime. In addition, there should be no foreign military bases on Cambodian soil.


Students of the People's Republic of Kampuchea at the trade union college "Fritz Heckert", Frankfurt (Oder) , 1986

On January 1, 1979, the Central Committee of the Salvation Front proclaimed a series of emergency measures in the areas liberated from the Khmer Rouge. One of these measures was the establishment of " self-government committees of the people" in all parishes. These committees were to form the basic administrative structure for the Revolutionary Council of the Cambodian People (KPRC), which was formed on January 8, 1979 as the central administrative body of the People's Republic. Heng Samrin's regime served the KPRC as a governing body until June 27, 1981, when the new constitution required its replacement by a newly elected Council of Ministers. Pen Sovann became the new prime minister, who was replaced by Chan Sy in February 1982 and Hun Sen in January 1985 .

On January 10, 1979, the People's Republic of Kampuchea was founded. Heng Samrin was appointed head of state, and other members of the leading People's Revolutionary Party of the Khmer ( Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party , KPRP), such as Chan Sy and Hun Sen, held other leading positions. The Vietnamese army remained in the country as an army of occupation after Pol Pot's removal. At least 600,000 Cambodians who had been relocated during the Pol Pot era began to flock back to their homes. Some also fled to the Thai border in search of protection . The Khmer Rouge killed almost all members of the Cambodian intelligentsia . To enable the country to be built up and managed, the People's Republic sent hundreds of students to various countries in the Eastern Bloc for training. UNICEF and the United Nations World Food Program coordinated massive relief efforts. Over $ 400 million was made available between 1979 and 1982, nearly $ 100 million from the United States alone . More than 500,000 Cambodians lived along the Thai-Cambodian border and more than 100,000 in camps within Thailand.

Vietnam's occupation army comprised between 100,000 and 200,000 men. A large part of the military forces of the Khmer Rouge avoided the Vietnamese troops. In 1979, the former prime minister founded Son Sann the National Liberation Front of the Khmer (English Khmer People's National Liberation Front , KPNLF) to lead the political struggle for Cambodia's independence. She was also loyal to Prince Sihanouk and formed a military arm, the Khmer People's National Liberation Armed Forces (KPNLAF). Sihanouk founded his own organization in 1981, FUNCINPEC (French for Front Uni National pour un Cambodge Indépendant, Neutre, Pacifique, et Coopératif ) with the military Armée nationale sihanoukienne (ANS). The two organizations, which consisted of groups that had fought the Khmer Rouge after 1975, including soldiers from Lon Nol , formed the non-communist resistance. Together with the Khmer Rouge, they formed the coalition government of the Democratic Kampuchea in Exile, which was internationally recognized as the legitimate government of Cambodia and occupied Cambodia's seat in the UN.

After 1980 the warfare followed a rhythm of rainy and dry seasons. The heavily armed Vietnamese forces launched their offensives during the dry seasons, while the resistance groups carried out their initiatives during the rainy seasons. In 1982 Vietnam launched a major offensive against the Khmer Rouge near Phnom Malai in the Cardamom Mountains , which the Khmer Rouge mostly survived intact. In the dry season offensive 1984–1985, the Vietnamese again attacked smaller camps of all three resistance groups. Despite their tough resistance, the Vietnamese dissolved the camps in Cambodia and pursued the fighters and civilian refugees as far as neighboring Thailand. During the 1985–1986 dry season, the Vietnamese focused on consolidating their profits and attempted to block infiltration routes into the country by forcing Cambodian workers to build trenches, wire fences and minefields along the entire Thai border.

The Khmer Rouge led their guerrillas in the same way. They cut down large trees, blocking the roads in the jungle along the Thai border to prevent Vietnamese tanks and armored trucks from penetrating. In the interior of Cambodia, Vietnam had only limited success in establishing the regime of Heng Samrin, which was entirely dependent on the Vietnamese advisers. Security in rural areas was insufficient and the main routes of transport were under the control of the resistance forces. The penetration of the Vietnamese into almost all aspects of Cambodian life also alienated them from the population. At the end of the decade, Khmer nationalism began to assert itself again against its traditional Vietnamese rival.

State of Cambodia (1989–1991)

Flag of the State of Cambodia (1989-1993)

In 1986 the Vietnamese government in Hanoi claimed to have withdrawn some of its occupation forces while continuing to support the Phnom Penh regime and its armed forces. The withdrawal of troops continued for the next two years, according to the Vietnamese. International pressure, but also the economic weakness of the Soviet Union , which also had an impact on Vietnam, prompted Vietnam to agree to the withdrawal of the remaining occupation troops by the end of the year at the Paris conference in 1989. The last Vietnamese troops left Cambodia on September 26, 1989. In the following months, many civilian Vietnamese also left the country. At the same time, the country was renamed State of Cambodia and given new state symbols. Due to the new development, the KPRP was forced to introduce economic and political reforms in order to ensure its supremacy in the future. The Buddhism was again the state religion, and market reforms should follow. The political system remained untouched, however. On 19 October 1991, the KPRP named in Cambodian People's Party (English Cambodia People's Party , CPP) around and put their Marxist-Leninist ideology from official.

The military organizations ANS and KPNLAF of the non-communist resistance FUNCINPEC and KPNF increased their presence in the interior of Cambodia in 1988/1989. On June 24, 1991, the four parties to the civil war signed an armistice through the mediation of the United Nations, and finally, on October 23, 1991, the Paris Peace Treaty , which was supposed to secure the armistice and which scheduled new elections for 1993.

UN Interim Administration (1991–1993)

After the Paris Peace Treaty Cambodia came to the restoration of the monarchy in September 1993 under the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (Engl. United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia , UNTAC), which from October 1991 to March 1992 by the United Nations Advance Mission in Cambodia (UNAMIC) has been prepared. A 16,000-strong peacekeeping force was to disarm the fighters, monitor the ceasefire and organize elections for 1993. In 1992, however, the Khmer Rouge refused to allow itself to be disarmed and continued guerrilla warfare against the government. Head of state remained nominally the chairman of the Revolutionary People's Council, Heng Samrin, who was replaced in April 1992 by Chea Sim in the body now renamed the State Council and in June 1993 by Norodom Sihanouk. Prime Minister remained Hun Sen, leader of the Cambodian People's Party , who was replaced in July 1993 by Sihanouk's son Norodom Ranariddh from the royalist FUNCINPEC. On September 24th, the new constitution came into force, which defined a constitutional monarchy with a democratic multi-party system and a market economy as a state system .


The constitution of the People's Republic of Kampuchea , which was promulgated on June 27, 1981, determined Cambodia to be “gradually developed as a democratic state… towards socialism”. The transition to socialism should take place under the leadership of the Marxist-Leninist , founded in 1951, the Revolutionary People's Party of the Khmer (English Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party , KPRP). The constitution explicitly defined the country's position in international relations. She positioned Cambodia within the sphere of influence of the Soviet Union . According to the constitution, the country's primary enemies were "the Chinese expansionists and hegemonists and those who practice hidden state imperialism".

The constitution guaranteed some civil and fundamental rights. However, their exercise was subject to “certain restrictions”. In accordance with the basic rule of socialist collectivism , citizens were forced "to pursue the political line of the state and to defend collective property". The constitution also contained basic provisions governing culture, education, social welfare, and public health. Emphasis was placed on the need to preserve Cambodian culture, in language, literature, arts, science and technology, with cultural cooperation with foreign countries. To this end, tourism should be promoted.

Government structure

The KPRC formed the administrative infrastructure between 1979 and 1980. With the constitution of June 1981, new organs such as the National Assembly and the Council of Ministers took over the previous functions of the KPRC. These new bodies developed slowly, and it was not until February 1982 that the National Assembly passed laws for them.

National Assembly

The “supreme body of state power” was the National Assembly , whose deputies were elected for five years. The 117 members of the National Assembly were elected in the first election of the People's Republic of Kampuchea on May 1, 1981. The only approved party was the KPRP with 148 candidates. The turnout was given as 89.6%. There were 20 constituencies .

During the first session from June 24th to June 27th 1981, the National Assembly adopted the new constitution and elected the members of the relevant organs. The National Assembly was empowered to adopt or amend the Constitution and the laws and to supervise their application, to determine domestic and foreign policy as well as economic and cultural programs, to determine the state budget and to elect the officers and members of the Council of State and the Council of Ministers or to remove. The National Assembly was also empowered to raise, fix or abolish taxes, issue amnesties and confirm or reject international agreements. The constitution stipulated that in the event of war or “other exceptional circumstances” the five-year cycle of the National Assembly could be extended by ordinance. In 1986 the National Assembly was confirmed for another five years until 1991.

Council of State and Council of Ministers

The National Assembly elected seven of its members to the State Council. These were among the most influential leaders of the People's Republic. Between the sessions of the National Assembly, the State Council performed the tasks of the National Assembly. On the recommendation of the Council of Ministers, he could appoint or replace cabinet ministers and accredit ambassadors and delegates. In addition, the State Council organized the elections for the National Assembly.

The Council of Ministers (the government cabinet) has been headed by Hun Sen since 1985 . In addition to the Prime Minister, the Council of Ministers had two deputy prime ministers (chairpersons) and twenty ministers. The National Assembly elected the Council's ministers for a five-year term.

The Council of Ministers met weekly for an executive meeting and prepared the agenda for the monthly plenary meeting of the Council. The decisions made in the executive sessions were "collective". Representatives of the Salvation Front and other mass organizations to which all citizens could belong could be invited to attend the plenary sessions of the council "when important issues were to be discussed". These representatives were allowed to express their views, but they were not allowed to vote.

The ministers were responsible for agriculture, communications, transportation and postal services, training, finance, foreign policy, health, trade and industry, information and culture, home affairs, justice, national defense, planning and social affairs. In addition, the cabinet included a Minister for Agricultural Affairs and Rubber Plantations .


The restoration of law and order was one of the tasks of the Heng Samrin regime, as in 1979 the judiciary was in the hands of the revolutionary people's courts, hastily established in Phnom Penh and other major cities. A new law on the organization of courts and the office of public prosecutor was enacted in February 1982. The law made the Supreme People's Court the highest court in the country. The judicial system included the revolutionary people's courts, the military courts and the offices of prosecutors. The Council of Ministers was allowed to order additional courts to deal with special cases. The Council of Ministers appointed judges and prosecutors based on recommendations from the local administrative bodies, the “People's Revolutionary Committees”. Two or three committee members assisted the judges as honorary judges .


In 1987 the country was divided into eighteen provinces (khet) and two special urban districts (krong) , Phnom Penh and Kampong Saom, which were directly subordinate to the central government. The provinces were divided into 122 districts (srok) , 1325 communes (khum) and 9386 villages (phum) . The subdivisions of the city were called districts (sangkat) .

An elected chairman, one or more chairmen, and some committee members presided over each popular revolutionary committee. These elected bodies were elected by representatives of the following lower levels of the People's Revolutionary Committees at the provincial and district levels. Before the first local elections in February and March 1981, the central government appointed local committee officials. In 1987 it was unclear whether the chairmen of the local revolutionary committees were accountable to the office of the Council of Ministers or the Ministry of Interior.

Web links

Individual references and sources

  1. Sok Udom Deth: The People's Republic of Kampuchea 1979–1989: A Draconian Savior? ( Memento from September 6, 2012 in the Internet Archive ). Ohio University , June 2009 (Master's thesis; PDF; 4 kB).
  2. ^ Siegfried Ehrmann: A Flag with a Tortured Past. In:
  3. Sorpong Peou: Intervention & Change in Cambodia. Towards Democracy? Silkworm, Chiang Mai 2000, ISBN 974-7551-29-7 .
  4. Michael Leifer, Joseph Chinyong Liow: Dictionary of the Modern Politics of South-East Asia. 4th edition. Routledge, Abingdon-on-Thames, 2015, ISBN 978-0-415-62531-9 .
  5. ^ Cambodia in the 1980s and in the Twentieth Century. 2. Khmer Social Situation during 1979–1989 ( Memento from September 8, 2008 in the Internet Archive ). Documentation Center of Cambodia.
  6. ^ Margaret Slocomb: The People's Republic of Kampuchea, 1979-1989: The Revolution after Pol Pot. Silkworm, Chiang Mai 2003, ISBN 974-9575-34-2 .
  7. ^ Cambodia in the 1980s and in the Twentieth Century. 2.3. Government's Key Organizations ( Memento of September 8, 2008 in the Internet Archive ). Documentation Center of Cambodia.
  8. Ulrich Ernst Huse (Ed.): Harenberg States Lexicon. The history of all states in the 20th century. Harenberg, Dortmund 2000, ISBN 3-611-00894-X .