The last major Khmer base in Kampuchea falls. The armed forces belonging to a coalition of the Khmer resistance and the troops of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, along with nearly a quarter million displaced citizens, flee across the border into Thailand. The war in Kampuchea will now devolve from a battlefield contest to a guerrilla war, with the occupying force of Vietnam continuing to receive strong support from the USSR.
US Secretary of State George Schultz confirms, following discussions with the Vietnamese Ambassador, that Vietnam will begin to withdraw its troops from Kampuchea from 1 January next year and pledges to be complete the withdrawal process by the end of 1988. The Vietnamese believe that, having driven the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge from the countryside and under pressure from Moscow to make a deal, that a ceasefire is tenable. They pledge to repatriate refugees of the conflict, undertake to commit to a process of mutual disarmament and agree to prepare the country for “free and fair” elections.
The Premier of Vietnam, Pham Van Dong, announces that he has commenced negotiation, on behalf of the puppet regime in Phnom Penh, with rebel forces in Thailand. The talks will drag on for over two years before a ceasefire is concluded.
Kampuchean Prime Minister Heng Samrin states that he authorised attacks on UN encampments within Thailand which occurred today. The government is continuing to work to seal the border with Thailand and they state that the sixty dead, including a four-year-old girl, were members of the rebel Khmer Rouge.
A breakthrough is believed to have occurred in negotiations in Paris between Vietnam and the Kampuchean factions. There is expectation among the permanent members of the UN Security Council that a ceasefire is only weeks away.
Vietnam and the Kampuchean rebels sign a ceasefire under the watch of UN Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar. Vietnam confirms that it should have its forces completely withdrawn within the year. Former President of Kampuchea Khieu Samphan, along with former Prime Minister Pol Pot and former head of the armed forces, Son Sen, are, as a key part of the agreement, indicted to stand trial for war crimes.
Prince Norodom Sihanouk, the former Cambodian head of state, returns to his homeland for the first time after nine years of exile. He calls for the repatriation of those displaced by the war, demobilisation and disarmament of the factional armies and preparations for a free and democratic election.
Representatives of the fifteen members of the United Nations Security Council, plus four Cambodian peace teams, sign the Treaty of Paris (1987), in which the United Nations undertakes to participate in the reconstruction of Cambodia. The current Security Council members, who will provide the troops, are: Congo, Ghana, Zambia, UAE, Venezuela, Argentina, West Germany, Italy and Bulgaria. Jan Eliasson of Sweden, the newly-appointed Director of the UN Transitional Authority, arrives in Phnom Penh with Major General John Coates, head of the UN peacekeeping mission. Ambassador Eliasson commits to holding elections for the establishment of a constitutional convention for Cambodia by the end of 1988.
Prince Norodom Sihanouk and other members of the Supreme National Council of Cambodia return to Phnom Penh. He has waited until the city has been secured by the UN Advance Mission in Cambodia. De-mining, and repatriation of nearly four hundred thousand refugees, comiences.
Jan Eliasson, leader of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia, and former Prime Minister Heng Samrin meet in Phnom Penh to discuss the withdrawal of Vietnamese forces and to end the standoff on the border with Thailand. The Vietnamese-backed forces have demanded the former Khmer Rouge Central Committee be classified as war criminals and be detained by Thailand before they will hand over control of the countryside to the UN.
Vietnamese diplomats agree to allow UN-operated elections to take place, in order to select a new National Assembly for Cambodia and to respect the outcome of the election. There is equal support for the royalist party, FUNCINPEC, and the Vietnamese-backed Cambodian People’s Party. Khmer Rouge will be denied any role in the new government.
Vietnamese Secretary General Nguyen van Linh states that progress in Cambodia will allow his army to immediately begin withdrawal of nearly half of its troops in the country. He projects that a further five thousand troops will be rotated out of the country each month, with the final contingent pulling out in December this year. Vietnam will later admit that it has lost fifty thousand troops during its ten year fight against the Khmer Rouge, whom Vietnam is pressuring Thailand to prosecute.
Prince Norodom Sihanouk, leader of the royalist guerrillas in Cambodia’s conflicts, states that members of the Khmer Rouge have attempted to eliminate his factional supporters in a campaign inside Thailand. Acting under considerable foreign pressure, Thai Foreign Minister Anand Panyarachun states that a campaign to liquidate the Khmer Rouge, many of them based in Thailand’s Isan region, might be necessary if the former Cambodian government continue to disrupt the peace process.
Ambassador Jan Eliasson, the UN representative in Cambodia, meets with Prime Minister Heng Samrin to discuss moving people into the vacant villas and apartments scattered through Phnom Penh. The capital is clearly recovering from years of war, with restaurants and the import trade is once again growing. There remains genuine fear about the estimated 28,000 members of the Khmer Rouge in Thailand.
Elections are held for the establishment of a Cambodian national assembly. The royalist party, FUNCINPEC, wins a majority, making Prince Ranarridh, son of Prince Sihanouk, the Prime Minister of the first post-war government. He announces an intention to return his nation to monarchy and appoint his father as the new King. Outgoing Prime Minister Heng Samrin retires from public life. The leader of the Cambodian Peoples’ Party, Hun Sen, is appointed as Defence Minister.
Cambodian Prime Minister, Prince Norodom Ranarridh, declares that Khmer Rouge guerrillas have re-entered his country, with many refugees forced into involuntary armed service. He calls on Thailand to boost security in the Khmer Rouge camps and to provide education to balance “Communist indoctrination”. He also points out that a number of refugees in Thailand are being denied the right to freely practice their Buddhist beliefs.
Thai Foreign Minister Anand Panyarachun arrives in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, to meet with Prime Minister Norodom Raniriddh and the head of Vietnam’s foreign ministry, Nguyen Co Thach. There is a general understanding that China is willing to abandon the Khmer Rouge leadership and that the United States will provide the funding ensure they are contained in the Pailin area. The last Vietnamese troops in Cambodia withdrew three weeks ago.
The Kingdom of Cambodia is declared after a parliamentary debate in which the members of the national coalition agreed not to appose the restoration of the monarchy. That evening, King Norodom Sihanouk addresses the nation and promises to “serve the will of my people” and be a “faithful and devoted servant”. He advises that his swearing in will be low-key and will occur on 18 February.
King Norodom Sihanouk is installed as the head of state of Cambodia in a simple ceremony in Phnom Penh attended by members of the royal family, state officials, ambassadors and Buddhist religious leaders. Three days of celebrations follow the official blessing of the restoration of the monarch.
A Japanese patrol participating in UN operations in Cambodia’s Battambang Province capture former Deputy Prime Minister Ieng Sary, one of the most senior members of the Khmer Rouge. He is taken to Phnom Penh, where he stands under sentence of death.
Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh of Cambodia announces the institution of a war crimes tribunal to hear charges against members of the Khmer Rouge currently in exile. The war crimes tribunal was a vital part of the peace agreement and will last for the next ten months.