12. French Indochina/Cambodia (1945-1954)

Crisis Phase (March 12, 1945-March 23, 1949):  King Norodom Sihanouk proclaimed Cambodia’s independence from France on March 12, 1945. King Norodom Sihanouk appointed Son Ngoc Thanh as prime minister of the government of Kampuchea on August 14, 1945.  British government troops commanded by Lt. Colonel E. D. Murray arrived in Phnom Penh on October 8, 1945.  French government troops arrested Prime Minister Son Ngoc Thanh on October 12, 1945, and Prince Monireth was appointed prime minister on October 17, 1945.  The French government granted Cambodia internal autonomy on January 4, 1946.  Seven French soldiers were killed in violence in Siem Reap province on August 7, 1946.  Parliamentary elections were held on September 1, 1946, and the Democratic Party (Pak Pracheatipatey – PP) won a majority of the seats in the National Assembly.  Prince Youthevong was appointed prime minister on December 15, 1946.  Cambodia was proclaimed a constitutional monarchy on May 6, 1947.  Prime Minister Youthevong died on July 11, 1947, and Sisowath Watchhayavong was appointed prime minister.  Parliamentary elections were held on December 21, 1947, and the PP maintained a majority of the seats in the National Assembly.  Chhean Vom was formed a government as prime minister on January 2, 1948.  The Liberation Committee of the Khmer People (Comite de Liberation du Peuple Khmer – CLPK) headed by Dap Chhuon was established on February 1, 1948.  Penn Nouth formed a government as prime minister on August 15, 1948. The CLPK became the Khmer National Liberation Committee (Comite National Khmer de Liberation – CNKL) headed by Poc Khan in February 1949.  Yem Sambaur formed a government as prime minister on February 12, 1949.

J. Monaghan French Indochina Imperialism Project timeline | Timetoast

Conflict Phase (March 24, 1949-August 7, 1954): French troops clashed with communist rebels near Giong Thanh on March 24-25, 1949. King Norodom Sihanouk dissolved the National Assembly on September 18, 1949, and Ieu Koeus formed a government as prime minister on September 20, 1949. French troops clashed with communist rebels in the Sri Chen area on September 28-October 2, 1949. France granted Cambodia independence within the French Union on November 8, 1949. Prime Minister Koeus was assassinated on January 14, 1950, and King Norodom Sihanouk formed a provisional government as prime minister on May 3, 1950. The United Issarek Front (Front Uni Issarek – FUI) headed by Son Ngoc Minh was established in Kompong Som Loeu on April 17-19, 1950. Sisowath Monipong formed a government as prime minister on June 1, 1950. Son Ngoc Minh proclaimed the independence of Cambodia on June 19, 1950.  The Khmer People’s Revolutionary Party (Parti Revolutionnaire de Peuple Khmer – PRPK) was established on February 8, 1951.  Parliamentary elections were held on September 9, 1951, and the Democratic Party won a majority of the seats in the National Assembly. Son Ngoc Minh was selected as president of the PRPK central committee on September 30, 1951.  Huy Kanthoul formed a government as prime minister on October 13, 1951.  Jean de Raymond, the French commissioner in Cambodia, was assassinated on October 29, 1951.  On the same day, the French government permitted former Prime Minister Son Ngoc Thanh to return to Cambodia from exile in France.  King Norodom Sihanouk dismissed the cabinet and National Assembly on June 15, 1952, and King Norodom Sihanouk assumed full control of the government on June 16, 1952.  The CNKL and FUI formed a coalition on September 24, 1952.  King Norodom Sihanouk declared a state-of-emergency on January 13, 1953. France and Cambodian representatives signed a protocol on May 9, 1953.  King Norodom Sihanouk fled into exile in Thailand on June 14, 1953, but he returned to Cambodia on June 20, 1953.  France relinquished sovereignty over Cambodia on November 7, 1953, and King Norodom Sihanouk declared Cambodian independence on November 9, 1953.  The government of Switzerland facilitated negotiations between French and Cambodian representatives in Geneva from April 26 to July 21, 1954.  The parties agreed to a ceasefire on July 21, 1954, and the ceasefire went into effect on August 7, 1954.

Post-Conflict Phase (August 8, 1954-December 29, 1954):  On August 11, 1954, the International Commission for Supervision and Control (ICSC-Cambodia) was established to monitor the ceasefire agreement and to supervise the disengagement of French and Cambodian military forces.  ICSC-Cambodia consisted of some 500 personnel from Canada, India, and Poland.  Under the Geneva Agreements, France to supervise the ceasefire agreement in Cambodia beginning on August 11, 1954.  France formally agreed to recognize Cambodia’s independence on December 29, 1954. ICSC-Cambodia was withdrawn on December 31, 1969.

[Sources: Bercovitch and Jackson, 1997, 53-54; Langer, 1972, 1330-1332.]


Selected Bibliography

Chandler, David P. 1992. A History of Cambodia. Boulder, CO, San Francisco, CA, Oxford, UK: Westview Press.

Thakur, Ramesh. 1984. Peacekeeping in Vietnam: Canada, India, Poland, and the International Commission. Edmonton,
Alberta: The University of Alberta Press.