Key names and parties:
1975-1979--The Communist Khmer Rouge goverment (also known as the Partie of Democratic Kampuchea or PDK) held power. It was responsible for the deaths of more than 2 million people.
5/93--Democratic elections organized by UNTAC in Cambodia were held, and the result was a victory for the National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful and Cooperative Cambodia (known by its French acronym FUNCINPEC), led by Prince Norodo m Ranariddh. The Cambodian People's Party (CPP) led by Hun Sen came in second in the poll. A coalition provisional government was formed and a new constitution was drawn up, re-establishing Cambodia as a monarchy.
9/93--The Royal Government of Cambodia assumed full control over the country's affairs, following the end of the mandate of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC), which oversaw Cambodia's transition to elected government. It ha d two Prime Ministers--First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh and Second Prime Minister Hun Sen. Ranariddh's father, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, was crowned King of Cambodia. Ranariddh and Hun Sen often clashed over power-sharing and the integration of guerrilla fighters from the crumbling Khmer Rouge.
7/5/97-7/6/97--Forces loyal to Hun Sen launched violent and sustained attacks against forces loyal to Ranariddh. The fighting left more than 40 people dead, and over 200 injured. In this coup, Hen Sen ousted Ranariddh and crippled his political party. Ranariddh fled Cambodia and did not return until a few months before elections in July of 1998.
7/26/98--On this election day, Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party narrowly won the polls, but a strong second-place finish by Ranariddh's FUNCINPEC gave the royalist party leverage in post-election negotiations. Ranariddh and his opposition ally, Sam Rainsy, refused to accept the election results, alleging widespread intimidation and fraud by the CPP. When their claims were dismissed by a Hun Sen-friendly court, they rallied their supporters into the streets of Phnom Penh. After two weeks of tolerat ing the demonstrations, Hun Sen ordered a violent crackdown that resulted in the deaths of at least four protesters. U.N. human rights workers later discovered more than 20 bodies--many bearing signs of torture--in and around the capital, prompting specu lation that the death toll could be much higher.
10/27/98--Cambodia's ruling party responded to criticisms of its leader in the U.S. Congress with a lengthy defense of Hun Sen's human rights record.
11/12/98--Ranariddh returned from Thailand, where he was staying with other opposition figures for weeks because they feared for their safety in Cambodia.
11/13/98--Cambodia's bickering political parties broke a three-month deadlock and agreed to a coalition government leaving Hun Sen as sole prime minister. Ranariddh became president of the National Assembly. Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party dropped insistence on a joint assembly chairmanship shared by Ranariddh and party boss Chea Sim, the current speaker, which was one of the main stumbling blocks in months of discord. Instead, they decided to modify the constitution to create a new Senate, which Chea Sim will head. The two parties agreed to keep the ministries of interior and defence under co-ministers. It was also agreed that the CPP would control the foreign affairs and finance portfolios and that FUNCINPEC would control justice and informat ion. Cambodian politicians expressed hope that a new partnership between the parties of Hun Sen and Ranariddh in a coalition government would not end in more violence.
11/18/99--Hun Sen guaranteed the safety and political freedom of all politicians to ease the fears of his rivals that they would be arrested or killed if they returned to Cambodia. The assurances were especially aimed at Sam Rainsy, leader of a vocall y anti-Hun Sen opposition party. Sam Rainsy said he was unsatisfied with the guarantee due to its indirect language and loopholes.
11/25/98--Cambodia finally got its new National Assembly, and Hun Sen and Ranariddh appeared to be friendly, but many foreign analysts said they feared that the show of amity would be fleeting.