Sosthène Fernandez

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General Sosthène Fernandez (born on 28 November 1923 in Phnom Penh; died 2006 in France) was the Commander-in-Chief of the Khmer National Armed Forces (FANK) and chief of general staff of the Khmer Republic after Prince Sihanouk was deposed as head of state in 1970. Prior to 1970, he was a prominent politician and a former chief of the police.

Fernandez was born in Phnom Penh[1] to a Filipino father and an ethnic Khmer mother born in Vietnam.[2][3] Fernandez briefly joined the teaching service and was naturalised as a French subject in 1915. Fernandez took up law studies, and by 1928 was appointed as a local magistrate. In the 1940s, he co-founded the Liberal Party along with Prince Norindeth, and was elected to parliament in 1951. Fernandez served under various ministry portfolios in the 1950s and 1960s.[4]

In 1975, because of the cutting of US aid, the republican government's leaders wanted to stop the war unconditionally. However, Fernandez refused to negotiate with the Khmer Rouge if the government ordered FANK to lay down their arms during the negotiation; for this reason, he resigned as army chief. Fernandez and Lon Nol left the country before the Khmer Rouge took Phnom Penh in 1975. All the republicans wanted to stop the Civil War in Cambodia. Several others officials such as Long Boret, Lon Non and Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak remained in office until the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh on April 17, 1975. They mistakenly thought that they would be spared through the intercession of Norodom Sihanouk, but were executed by the Khmer Rouge.

In 1998, Fernandez returned to Cambodia to meet his former soldiers. He wrote a book about his life as the Commander-in-Chief of the Khmer National Armed Force. He died in France in 2006 due to complications from diabetes.[5]


  1. ^ The Times-News, 13 August 1970
  2. ^ Becker (1998), p. 15
  3. ^ Asphyxiating the Capital Mar. 17, 1975, TIME
  4. ^ Preston et al. (2007), p. 305
  5. ^ "The Gecko: 11 August, 2006". The Phnom Penh Post. 11 August 2006. Retrieved 30 May 2015.


  • Mémoires of general sosthène Fernandez : "mémoires d'une guerre oubliée" site, Book published in mars 2015
  • Becker, Elizabeth. When the War Was over: Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge Revolution. PublicAffairs. ISBN 1-891620-00-2.
  • Preston, Paul et al. British documents on foreign affairs: reports and papers from the Foreign Office confidential print. From 1951 through 1956. Asia, 1951-1956, Volume 5, LexisNexis, 2007, ISBN 0886927234

Further reading[edit]