Funcinpec Party

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National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia
Front uni national pour un Cambodge indépendant, neutre, pacifique, et coopératif
រណសិរ្សបង្រួប បង្រួមជាតិដើម្បីកម្ពុជាឯករាជ្យ អព្យាក្រិត សន្តិភាព និងសហប្រតិបត្តិការ
(គណបក្ស ហ្វ៊ុនស៊ិនប៉ិច)
Founder Norodom Sihanouk
President Norodom Ranariddh
Secretary-General Say Hak
Founded 21 March 1981
Headquarters Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Ideology Cambodian nationalism
Political position Centre-right
International affiliation Centrist Democrat International
Colors Blue and Yellow
National Assembly
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Politics of Cambodia
Political parties

FUNCINPEC (Khmer: គណបក្ស ហ្វ៊ុនស៊ិនប៉ិច) is a royalist political party in Cambodia. Before the 2008 election, FUNCINPEC and the Cambodian People's Party formed a coalition government, although FUNCINPEC's significance has decreased steadily since 1998, when it had an equal relationship with the CPP in the coalition. It is currently the third largest party in Cambodia but failed to win any seats in the 2013 elections.

FUNCINPEC is a French acronym for Front uni national pour un Cambodge indépendant, neutre, pacifique, et coopératif, which translates to "National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia" (Khmer: រណសិរ្សបង្រួប បង្រួមជាតិដើម្បីកម្ពុជាឯករាជ្យ អព្យាក្រិត សន្តិភាព និងសហប្រតិបត្តិការ).



Further information: Sangkum, Khmer Republic and GRUNK

The party traces its roots to Norodom Sihanouk, the Cambodian independence leader, former King of Cambodia, Prime Minister and latterly Head of State during the period between 1955 and 1970, when his Sangkum regime controlled Cambodia. Sihanouk was deposed in a March 1970 coup by his cousin, Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak and rightist General Lon Nol, who proclaimed the Khmer Republic that October. Subsequently, Sihanouk had gone into exile in Beijing, and formed the Royal Government of National Union of Kampuchea (GRUNK), a coalition government incorporating his former enemies, the Communist Party of Kampuchea (or, as Sihanouk referred to them, the Khmer Rouge).

After the communist victory in the Cambodian Civil War in 1975 and their establishment of Democratic Kampuchea, Sihanouk's supporters were sidelined and purged, while Sihanouk himself was placed under effective house arrest. However, when the Vietnamese army expelled the Khmer Rouge in early 1979, Sihanouk (once more in exile) found himself in an ambivalent position regarding the Khmer Rouge: "despite its abuses of human rights, it is the genuine and only government of Cambodia. It sprang from popular resistance to the United States and Lon Nol. If I fought against it, I would be a traitor."[1]

The Khmer Rouge, now realising that Sihanouk's status as a figurehead would help their cause internationally, asked Sihanouk to plead the case of Democratic Kampuchea at the United Nations. Sihanouk now publicly broke with the communists, labelling them mass murderers and demanding that they be expelled.[2]

In the period up to 1979, a large number of refugees had gathered in camps on the Thai border, including some armed groups: former Republicans, royalists, remnants of the Khmer National Armed Forces's (FANK)'s 13th Brigade formerly commanded by Norodom Chantaraingsey, and bandits taking advantage of the chaos. In 1979, the numbers were vastly swelled by more refugees and defeated elements of the Khmer Rouge army.

The politician Son Sann and former FANK general Dien Del had already made efforts to organise some of the disparate groups into a resistance Front to fight the Vietnamese presence, which went on to become the Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF); this was a non-communist and largely republican movement. Two further former officers – naval captain Kong Sileah and paratroop colonel Nhem Sophon – were however to decide that they wanted an organisation with a unified command structure, rather than the KPNLF's loose coalition, and set up the Movement for the National Liberation of Kampuchea (MOULINAKA) on 31 August 1979 to achieve this.[3][4] This was the first of the resistance groups to pledge its loyalty to Sihanouk. Sophon was to enter Cambodia secretly in order to rally support to the royalist cause; captured by the Vietnamese, he managed to escape in April 1980, and took over sole leadership of MOULINAKA after the death of Kong Sileah from malaria on August 16, 1980.

Early years[edit]

On 21 March 1981, Sihanouk officially announced the formation of FUNCINPEC from Pyongyang, North Korea.[5] Sihanouk made another announcement on the formation of FUNCINPEC's armed wing from Thailand, the Armee Nationale Sihanoukiste (ANS) on 1 May 1981. The ANS was made up of several armed resistance factions including MOULINAKA, Kleang Moeung, Oddar Tus and Khmer Angkor, and had a combined strength of 7,000 troops.[6] Sihanouk approached China to procure arms for the ANS, and was pressured by Deng Xiaoping to forge closer relations with the Khmer Rouge as a precondition. In September 1981, Sihanouk met with KPNLF leader Son Sann and Khmer Rouge leader Khieu Samphan to establish the framework for a coalition government-in-exile.[7] On 22 June 1982, the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea (CGDK) was formed, and Sihanouk was made its President.[8]

Sihanouk appointed In Tam to lead the ANS,[9] although he was later replaced by Sihanouk's sons Norodom Ranariddh and Norodom Chakrapong who were appointed as the ANS chief-of-staff and ANS deputy chief-of-staff in January 1986[10] and March 1985 respectively.[11] In July 1985, Sihanouk threatened to quit his position as the President of CGDK after the ANS encountered several violent attacks from Khmer Rouge soldiers which resulted in the deaths of 38 ANS troops.[12] In December 1987, Sihanouk met with the Prime Minister of the PRK government, Hun Sen in France.[13] The following year in July 1988, the first informal meeting was held in Jakarta, Indonesia between the four warring Cambodian factions consisting of FUNCINPEC, Khmer Rouge, KPNLF and the PRK government. The meetings were held with a view to end the Cambodian–Vietnamese War, and two additional meetings were later held which became known as the Jakarta Informal Meetings (JIM).[14]

In August 1989, Sihanouk stepped down as the President of FUNCINPEC and was succeeded by Nhiek Tioulong. At the same time, Ranariddh was made the Secretary-General of the party.[15] In September 1990, the four warring Cambodian factions reached an agreement to form the Supreme National Council (SNC), an organisation designed to oversee Cambodia's sovereign affairs in the United nations on an interim basis. The SNC consisted of twelve members from the four warring Cambodian factions, with two seats going to FUNCINPEC. Sihanouk negotiated to become the 13th member of the SNC, a proposal which Hun Sen initially rejected[16] but later acceded after Sihanouk relinquished his FUNCINPEC party membership in July 1991. Sihanouk was elected as the chairman of the SNC,[17] and the SNC seats under FUNCINPEC's quota were filled up by Ranariddh and Sam Rainsy.[18] When the Paris Peace Accords were signed in October 1991, Ranariddh represented the party as its signatory.[19]

1993 elections[edit]

Party logo of FUNCINPEC (1992–2006)

Ranariddh was elected as FUNCINPEC's president in February 1992[20] FUNCINPEC formally registered itself as a political party under the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) administration in August 1992, and started to open party offices across Cambodia the following month.[21] However, party offices and officials faced harassment and attacks from State of Cambodia (SOC) secret police and military intelligence officials.[22] Between November 1992 and January 1993, 18 FUNCINPEC officials were killed and another 22 officials wounded, prompting Ranariddh to call on UNTAC to intervene and end the violence. UNTAC responded by setting up a special prosecutor's office to investigate cases of political violence,[23] but faced resistance from the SOC police in arresting and prosecuting offenders.[24] Most of the violent attacks occurred in the Kampong Cham and Battambang provinces,[25] whereby the governor in the latter province, Ung Sami was found to have been directly involved in the attacks.[26] When UNTAC allowed election campaigns to start in April 1993, FUNCINPEC held few election rallies due to intimidations from SOC police.[27] They campaigned through low-key methods, such as using pick-up trucks to travel around the country and broadcast political messages as well as sending party workers to visit villages in the countryside.[28]

FUNCINPEC had 400,000 members[29] by the time UNTAC allowed political parties to start election campaigns on 7 April 1993.[30] They campaigned on the party's historical relations with Sihanouk[31] as well as Ranariddh's blood ties to his father. Party supporters wore yellow T-shirts depicting Sihanouk,[32] and made rallying calls that "a vote for FUNCINPEC was a vote for Sihanouk".[33] Sihanouk remained popular with the majority of the Cambodian electorate,[31] and the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), the successor party to the PRK and SOC governments, was aware of such voter sentiments. In their editorials, the CPP emphasised their efforts to bring about Sihanouk's return to the country in 1991, as well as policy parallels between the CPP and the Sangkum, the political organisation which Sihanouk had led in the 1950s and 1960s.[34] FUNCINPEC also accused the SOC government of being filled with Vietnamese infiltrators[28] and Vietnamese settlers in Cambodia were given Cambodian citizenship to keep the SOC government in power.[35]

Voting was carried out between 23 to 28 May 1993[36] and FUNCINPEC secured 45.47% of all valid votes cast, which entitled them to take up 58 out of 120 seats in the constituent assembly[37] FUNCINPEC obtained the most seats in Kampong Cham, Kandal and Phnom Penh.[38] The CPP came in second place and secured 38.23% of valid votes,[37] and were unhappy with the outcome of the elections. On 3 June 1993, CPP leaders Chea Sim and Hun Sen met with Sihanouk to propose that he should lead a new interim government, and also demanding power-sharing for the CPP with FUNCINPEC on a fifty-fifty basis. Sihanouk agreed to the CPP's proposal and announced the formation of an interim government that evening.[39] Ranariddh and other FUNCINPEC leaders were not consulted over Sihanouk's proposal, and the announcement caught them by surprise. Ranariddh sent a fax to his father to disapprove of the CPP's proposal,[40] and the United States expressed a similar stance. Sihanouk publicly rescinded his earlier announcement of the interim government's formation the following day.[41]

On 10 June 1993, Chakrapong led a secession movement and threatened to form a breakaway state consisting of seven eastern Cambodian provinces. Chakrapong had by then joined the CPP was supported by the interior minister, General Sin Song[42] and Hun Sen's older brother, Hun Neng. The secession movement pressured Ranariddh to accede to CPP's request for power-sharing, and Hun Sen subsequently persuaded his brother to drop the secession movement.[43] Four days later, the first constituent assembly meeting was held which saw an interim government being formed, with Hun Sen and Ranariddh serving as co-Prime Ministers[44] in a dual Prime Ministership arrangement.[45] There were a total of thirty-three cabinet posts available, while the CPP got sixteen, FUNCINPEC got thirteen and the other coalition partners got the four remaining posts available.[46] When Sihanouk was re-instated as the King of Cambodia on 24 September 1993, he formalised the power-sharing arrangement by appointing Ranariddh as the First Prime Minister and Hun Sen as the Second Prime Minister in the new government.[47]

FUNCINPEC in the coalition government[edit]

The new government shrunk the number of cabinet to twenty-three, and they were divided between FUNCINPEC and CPP, each getting eleven ministries under their charge while the BLDP was allocated one cabinet post.[48] FUNCINPEC was also given half of all provincial governor posts available by the CPP, but most of the local government posts consisting of district and commune chiefs as well as civil service positions remained with the CPP.[49] Ranariddh developed a good working relationship with Hun Sen,[47] which was maintained until March 1996.[50] The UN secretary-general's representative to Cambodia, Benny Widyono noted that while both of them appeared together in public functions, Hun Sen held more political sway as compared to Ranariddh in the government.[51] In October 1994, Ranariddh and Hun Sen sacked Sam Rainsy as FUNCINPEC's finance minister after he repeatedly leaked confidential documents and corruption in a public manner.[52] Rainsy's sacking upset Norodom Sirivudh, the secretary-general for FUNCINPEC and Minister of Foreign Affairs to resign from his ministerial post at the same time.[53] Rainsy continued to criticise the government in his capacity as a Member of Parliament, and Ranariddh introduced a motion to expel Rainsy from the National Assembly and FUNCINPEC.[54]

In October 1995, Sirivudh talked about his desire to assassinate Hun Sen during an interview with So Naro, who was the secretary-general of the Khmer Journalists Association.[55] A few days later Ung Phan, a FUNCINPEC minister who had close ties with Hun Sen,[56] called Sirivudh and accused him of getting involved in receiving kickbacks for printing Cambodian passports. Sirivudh angrily denied the accusations and threatened to kill Hun Sen over the phone. The phone conversation was recorded, and Ung Phan passed the recorded phone conversation to CPP co-minister of the interior Sar Kheng. Hun Sen learnt of the conversation and became enraged at Sirivudh's comments,[55] and pressured Ranariddh and other FUNCINPEC ministers to strip his parliamentary immunity so that he could be arrested. Sirivudh was arrested and briefly placed in detention, but subsequently exiled to France when Sihanouk intervened in the case.[57]

The following January, FUNCINPEC held a closed-door seminar at Sihanoukville, attended by selected party members close to Ranariddh. The attendees expressed concern of CPP's attempts to dominate over FUNCINPEC, and a resolution was adopted to build up the military strength of pro-FUNCINPEC forces within the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF).[58]

On 10 February 1997, the first armed conflict between Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) troops separately aligned to FUNCINPEC and CPP broke out at Battambang Province.[59] On that day, troops under the command of the FUNCINPEC provincial deputy governor, Serey Kosal intercepted a convoy of 200 CPP troops who were travelling en route to Samlout. The convoy was stopped and disarmed, but news of the incident spread to nearby areas and fighting soon broke out between troops from both rival factions, leaving at least 21 troops dead.[60][61]

Recent years[edit]

The 1997 clashes in Cambodia, depicted by Ranariddh as a coup by Hun Sen and the CPP - while depicted by Hun Sen as a coup attempt by Ranariddh and FUNCINPEC with Khmer Rouge backing - resulted in Ranariddh going into exile in Paris. At the 1998 elections to the National Assembly of Cambodia, FUNCINPEC took second place with 43 of 123 seats, establishing the Cambodian People's Party as the leading party in Cambodia. At the 2003 National Assembly elections, the party declined further, taking 20% of the vote and receiving 26 seats. At the 2006 elections to the Senate of Cambodia, the party took 19% of the vote and 12 of the 61 seats. After Norodom Ranariddh was dismissed from the party leadership, he left to form the Norodom Ranariddh Party. FUNCINPEC and the Norodom Ranariddh Party both suffered a massive defeat in the 2008 National Assembly elections, receiving only two seats each. The Cambodian People's Party won a landslide victory, the Sam Rainsy Party became the second largest party and was confirmed as the main opposition party, and even the new Human Rights Party became stronger than FUNCINPEC.

List of party presidents[edit]

Norodom Sihanouk with his son and successor, Norodom Ranariddh during an ANS inspection tour during the 1980s.
Name Term of office
Norodom Sihanouk 1981–1989
Nhiek Tioulong 1989–1992
Norodom Ranariddh 1992–2006
Keo Puth Rasmey 2006–2011
Nhek Bun Chhay 2011–2013
Norodom Arunrasmy 2013–2015
Norodom Ranariddh 2015–present

General election results[edit]

Election Total seats won Total votes Share of votes Outcome of election Election leader
58 / 120
1,824,188 45.5% Increase58 seats; governing coalition (FUNCINPEC-CPP-BLDP) Norodom Ranariddh
43 / 122
1,554,405 31.7% Decrease15 seats; governing coalition (CPP-FUNCINPEC) Norodom Ranariddh
26 / 123
1,072,313 20.8% Decrease17 seats; governing coalition (CPP-FUNCINPEC) Norodom Ranariddh
2 / 123
303,764 5.05% Decrease24 seats; governing coalition (CPP-FUNCINPEC) Keo Puth Rasmey
0 / 123
242,413 3.66% Decrease2 seats; no seats Norodom Arunrasmey


  1. ^ Shawcross, W. Sideshow:Kissinger, Nixon and the Destruction of Cambodia, Simon & Schuster, 1979, p.391
  2. ^ Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea, Library of Congress Country Studies
  3. ^ Corfield, J. A History of the Cambodian Non-Communist Resistance 1975-1983, Monash University, 1991, p. 8.
  4. ^ Daniel Bultmann (2015) 'Inside Cambodian Insurgency. A Sociological Perspective on Civil Wars and Conflict', Ashgate: Burlington, VT/Farnham, UK, ISBN 9781472443076.
  5. ^ Jeldres (2005), p. 235
  6. ^ Im (2005), p. 89
  7. ^ Jeldres (2005), p. 236
  8. ^ Jeldres (2005), p. 238
  9. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 68
  10. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 184
  11. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 73
  12. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 74
  13. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 33
  14. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 34
  15. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 82
  16. ^ Findlay (1995), p. 8
  17. ^ Findlay (1995), p. 9
  18. ^ Findlay (1995), p. 58
  19. ^ Secretariat of the United Nations (1991), p. 300
  20. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 154
  21. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 116
  22. ^ Hughes (1996), p. 33
  23. ^ Hughes (1996), p. 50
  24. ^ Heder & Ledgerwood (1995), pp. 125, 127
  25. ^ Heder & Ledgerwood (1995), p. 120
  26. ^ Hughes (1996), p. 51
  27. ^ Heder & Ledgerwood (1995), p. 198
  28. ^ a b Heder & Ledgerwood (1995), p. 199
  29. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 93
  30. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 91
  31. ^ a b Heder & Ledgerwood (1995), p. 63
  32. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 92
  33. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 118
  34. ^ Heder & Ledgerwood (1995), p. 193
  35. ^ Heder & Ledgerwood (1995), p. 200
  36. ^ Findlay (1995), p. 82
  37. ^ a b Findlay (1995), p. 84
  38. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 123
  39. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 124
  40. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 99
  41. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 125
  42. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 128
  43. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 102
  44. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 129
  45. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 104
  46. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 130
  47. ^ a b Widyono (2008), p. 131
  48. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 144
  49. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 145
  50. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 165
  51. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 166
  52. ^ Widyono (2008), pp. 178-9
  53. ^ Mehta (2001), p. 142
  54. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 180
  55. ^ a b Widyono (2008), p. 183
  56. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 188
  57. ^ Widyono (2008), pp. 184-5
  58. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 214
  59. ^ Widyono (2008), p. 237
  60. ^ Tricia Fitzgerald and Sok Pov (21 February 1997). "Factional fighting jolts the northwest". Phnom Penh Post. Archived from the original on 31 August 2015. Retrieved 6 February 2015. 
  61. ^ Brad Adams (28 July 1996). "Cambodia: July 1997: Shock and Aftermath". Human Rights Watch. Archived from the original on 17 August 2015. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 



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