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Country Study By Russell R. RossPosted: 2009-09-24 09:12:17   Replies: 0
Khmer History (66)

THE PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF KAMPUCHEA

The People's Republic of Kampuchea (PRK) has "its ultimate origin," according to Cambodia expert Michael Vickery, "in the same revolutionary victory of 17 April 1975 as does the rival Pol Pot [Democratic Kampuchea] group." The PRK's patron since 1979 has been Vietnam, and in late 1987, many observers believed that the survival of the Phnom Penh regime depended on Vietnam's continued occupation of the country.

The PRK was established in January 1979 in line with the broad revolutionary program set forth by the Kampuchean (or Khmer) National United Front for National Salvation (KNUFNS--see Appemdix B), which was formed on December 2, 1978, in a zone liberated from the Khmer Rouge. Of the front's fourteen central committee members, the top two leaders--Heng Samrin, president, and Chea Sim, vice president--were identified as "former" KCP officials. Ros Samay, secretary general of the KNUFNS, was a former KCP "staff assistant" in a military unit. The government of Democratic Kampuchea denounced the KNUFNS, as "a Vietnamese political organization with a Khmer name," because several of its key members had been affiliated with the KCP.

The initial objectives of the KNUFNS were to rally the people under its banner, to topple the Pol Pot regime, to adopt a new constitution for a "democratic state advancing toward socialism," to build mass organizations, and to develop a revolutionary army. Its foreign policy objectives included pursuing nonalignment, settling disputes with neighbors through negotiations, putting an end to "the border war with Vietnam" provoked by the Pol Pot regime, and opposing foreign military bases on Cambodian soil. On December 26, 1978, the day after the Vietnamese invasion, the KNUFNS reiterated its opposition to foreign military bases.

On January 1, 1979, the front's central committee proclaimed a set of "immediate policies" to be applied in the "liberated areas." One of these policies was to establish "people's self-management committees" in all localities. These committees would form the basic administrative structure for the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Council (KPRC), decreed on January 8, 1979, as the central administrative body for the PRK. The KPRC served as the ruling body of the Heng Samrin regime until June 27, 1981, when a new Constitution required that it be replaced by a newly elected Council of Ministers. Pen Sovan became the new prime minister. He was assisted by three deputy prime ministers-- Hun Sen, Chan Sim, and Chea Soth.

The Constitution

The Constitution of the PRK, promulgated on June 27, 1981, defines Cambodia as "a democratic state...gradually advancing toward socialism." The transition to socialism was to take place under the leadership of the Kampuchean (or Khmer) People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP), a Marxist-Leninist party founded in June 1951. The Constitution explicitly defines the country's position in international relations. It places Cambodia within the Soviet Union's orbit. The country's primary enemies, according to the Constitution, are "the Chinese expansionists and hegemonists in Beijing, acting in collusion with United States imperialism and other powers."

The Constitution guarantees a broad range of civil liberties and fundamental rights. Citizens are to be equal before the law and are entitled to enjoy the same rights and duties regardless of sex, religion, or race. They have the right to participate in the political, economic, social, and cultural life of the country and to be paid according to the amount and quality of work they perform. Men and women are entitled to equal pay for equal work. All individuals--including monks and soldiers--over the age of eighteen may vote, and citizens over twenty-one may run for election. The Constitution also guarantees the inviolability of people and of their homes; privacy of correspondence; freedom from illegal search and arrest; the right to claim reparation for damages caused by illegal actions of the state, social organizations, and their personnel; and freedom of speech, of the press, and of assembly. The exercise of fundamental rights, however, is subject to certain restrictions. For example, an act may not injure the honor of other persons, nor should it adversely affect the mores and customs of society, or public order, or national security. In line with the principle of socialist collectivism, citizens are obligated to carry out "the state's political line and defend collective property."

The Constitution also addresses principles governing culture, education, social welfare, and public health. Development of language, literature, the arts, and science and technology is stressed, along with the need for cultural preservation, tourist promotion, and cultural cooperation with foreign countries.

Provisions for state organs are in the constitutional chapters dealing with the National Assembly, the Council of State, the Council of Ministers, the local people's revolutionary committees, and the judiciary. Fundamental to the operation of all public bodies is the principle that the KPRP serves as the most important political institution of the state. Intermediary linkages between the state bureaucracy and grass-roots activities are provided by numerous organizations affiliated with the KUFNCD.

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