Deposed Cambodian co-premier replaced
August 6, 1997
Web posted at: 1:57 p.m. EDT (1757 GMT)
In this story:
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- Bowing to the will of strongman
Hun Sen, legislators Wednesday voted into power a new
co-premier to replace deposed Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the
country's only popularly elected leader.
Taking Ranariddh's place as first prime minister is Foreign
Minister Ung Huot, a move that Hun Sen said signaled the end
of political turmoil that brought Cambodia to the verge of
"The crisis is now over," he told reporters after the secret
ballot vote by the National Assembly. Eighty-six lawmakers
voted for Ung Huot, a member of Ranariddh's political party,
while four opposed him, six abstained and three ballots were
|Newly elected First Prime Minister Ung Huot says democracy is
at work in the Cambodian parliament
85 K/10 sec. AIFF or WAV sound
The National Assembly normally consists of 120 lawmakers, but
many loyal to Ranariddh sought refuge abroad after last
month's takeover when at least 40 of the prince's supporters
were killed by Hun Sen's men.
Hun Sen denies that the fierce two-day military battle that
led Ranariddh to flee into exile was a coup.
Ung Huot's hurdles
Despite the approval of parliament, Ung Huot still faced
hurdles before winning full acceptance as co-premier:
Ranariddh's father, King Norodom Sihanouk, said late last
month he would not recognize Ung Huot as first premier as the
post belonged to his son. The king also said that a vote on
a new first prime minister by an incomplete parliament would
Members of the Cambodian opposition in Bangkok also said
Ung Huot's nomination was illegal and in violation of the
"The appointment (Wednesday) by the
National Assembly, in an atmosphere of intimidation and
fear, of Mr. Ung Huot is totally illegal," the Union of
Cambodian Democrats (UCD) opposition group said in a
statement released in the Thai capital.
Many Ranariddh supporters fled the
country in the wake of Hun Sen's takeover and a subsequent
crackdown on Ranariddh's FUNCINPEC party in which some 40
people were killed, according to U.N. human rights
The United States and the Association of South East Asian
Nations (ASEAN) both said soon after the prince's ouster that
they still recognized the prince as first prime minister.
There was no immediate comment from ASEAN or Washington on
Ung Huot's election.
Ranariddh also loses immunity
Earlier Wednesday, the National Assembly voted to strip
Ranariddh of his parliamentary immunity, clearing the way for
his prosecution for alleged crimes if he returns to
Hun Sen has said Ranariddh is free to come back but would
have to face charges for his illegal negotiations with the
outlawed Khmer Rouge guerrilla group and for alleged weapons
smuggling. The prince has denied the accusations.
Ung Huot told parliament he was honored to have been elected
first prime minister and said the main task of the
government was to strengthen political, economic and social
He also promised to work closely with Hun Sen's Cambodian
People's Party in preparing for elections scheduled for May.
In theory, Ung Huot's new position means he shares power with
Hun Sen, who holds the title of second prime minister in a
coalition arrangement formed after U.N.-run elections in
But even Ung Huot acknowledged to CNN last week that he may
be widely viewed as Hun Sen's "puppet".
Correspondent John Raedler and Reuters contributed to this report.
Related sites:Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
- ASEAN - the official website of Association of the Association of South East Asian Nations
- Cambodian Information Center - includies Cambodian news and photos, academic papers on Cambodia, and homepage links
- Embassy of Cambodia - site of the Chancery of the Royal Embassy of Cambodia to the United States located in Washington, D.C.
- Cambodia - profile from CARE
- Beauty and Darkness: Cambodia in Modern History - documents, essays, oral histories, and photos relating to the recent history of Cambodia, with an emphasis on the Khmer Rouge period
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