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FUNCINPEC is a royalist political party in Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

. Before the 2008 election, FUNCINPEC and the Cambodian People's Party
Cambodian People's Party
The Cambodian People's Party is the current ruling party of Cambodia.This party was formerly known as Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party...

 formed a coalition
A coalition is a pact or treaty among individuals or groups, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in their own self-interest, joining forces together for a common cause. This alliance may be temporary or a matter of convenience. A coalition thus differs from a more formal covenant...

 government, although FUNCINPEC's significance has decreased steadily since 1998, when it had an equal relationship with the CPP in the coalition.

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."


The party traces its roots to Norodom Sihanouk
Norodom Sihanouk
Norodom Sihanouk regular script was the King of Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until his semi-retirement and voluntary abdication on 7 October 2004 in favor of his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni...

, 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
The Sangkum Reastr Niyum , commonly known simply as the Sangkum, was a political organisation set up in 1955 by Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia...

 regime controlled Cambodia. Sihanouk was deposed in a March 1970 coup
Cambodian coup of 1970
The Cambodian coup of 1970 refers to the removal of the Cambodian Head of State, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, after a vote in the National Assembly on 18 March 1970. Emergency powers were subsequently invoked by the Prime Minister Lon Nol, who became effective head of state...

 by his cousin, Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak
Sisowath Sirik Matak
Prince Sisowath Sirik Matak was a member of the Cambodian royal family, the Varman dynasty.Sirik Matak was mainly notable for his involvement in Cambodian politics, particularly for his involvement in the 1970 right-wing coup against his cousin, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, and for his subsequent...

 and rightist General Lon Nol
Lon Nol
Lon Nol was a Cambodian politician and general who served as Prime Minister of Cambodia twice, as well as serving repeatedly as Defense Minister...

, who proclaimed the Khmer Republic
Khmer Republic
The Khmer Republic or République Khmère, was the republican government of Cambodia that was formally declared on October 9, 1970. The Khmer Republic was disestablished in 1975 and was followed by the totalitarian communist state known as Democratic Kampuchea.-Background:Formally declared on October...

 that October. Subsequently, Sihanouk had gone into exile in Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, and formed the GRUNK
The Royal Government of National Union of Kampuchea, usually known by the French acronym GRUNK, was a government-in-exile of Cambodia, based in Beijing, that was in existence between 1970 and 1976...

, a coalition government incorporating his former enemies, the Communist Party of Kampuchea
Communist Party of Kampuchea
The Communist Party of Kampuchea, also known as Khmer Communist Party , was a communist party in Cambodia. Its followers were generally known as Khmer Rouge .-Foundation of the party; first divisions:...

 (or, as Sihanouk referred to them, the Khmer Rouge
Khmer Rouge
The Khmer Rouge literally translated as Red Cambodians was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, who were the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan...


After the communist victory in the Cambodian Civil War
Cambodian Civil War
The Cambodian Civil War was a conflict that pitted the forces of the Communist Party of Kampuchea and their allies the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the Viet Cong against the government forces of Cambodia , which were supported by the United States and the Republic of Vietnam The Cambodian...

 in 1975 and their establishment of Democratic Kampuchea
Democratic Kampuchea
The Khmer Rouge period refers to the rule of Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen, Khieu Samphan and the Khmer Rouge Communist party over Cambodia, which the Khmer Rouge renamed as 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."

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
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

. Sihanouk now publicly broke with the communists, labelling them mass murderers and demanding that they be expelled.


In the period up to 1979, a large number of refugees had gathered in camps on the Thai
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

 border, including some armed groups: former Republicans, royalists, remnants of the FANK
Fánk is a sweet traditional Hungarian cake. The most commonly used ingredients are: flour, yeast, butter, egg yolk, a little bit of rum, a sniff of salt, milk and oil to deep fry with. After the pastry has risen for approximately 30 minutes the result is an extreme light doughnut-like pastry...

's 13th Brigade formerly commanded by Norodom Chantaraingsey
Norodom Chantaraingsey
Prince Norodom Chantaraingsey was a member of the Cambodian royal family, and a Cambodian nationalist. Initially a leader of the guerrilla resistance against the colonial French, he went on to become a prominent general in the Khmer National Armed Forces during the Cambodian Civil War, as well as...

, 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
Son Sann
Son Sann was a Cambodian politician and anti-communist resistance leader. Born in Phnom Penh, he held the office of Prime Minister in 1967-68. A devout Buddhist, he fathered seven children and was married....

 and former FANK general Dien Del
Dien Del
General Dien Del is a distinguished military figure who directed combat operations in Cambodia, first as a general in the Army of the Khmer Republic and then as a leader of KPNLF guerrilla forces fighting against the Vietnamese occupation .-Early career:Born in the Khmer Krom region of South...

 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 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 MOULINAKA
The MOULINAKA was a pro-Sihanouk military organization formed in August 1979 by an armed group on the Thai-Cambodian border.-History:...

 (Mouvement de Liberation National du Kampuchea) on 31 August 1979 to achieve this. 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
Malaria is a mosquito-borne infectious disease of humans and other animals caused by eukaryotic protists of the genus Plasmodium. The disease results from the multiplication of Plasmodium parasites within red blood cells, causing symptoms that typically include fever and headache, in severe cases...

 on August 16, 1980.

The formation of FUNCINPEC and the ANS

Sihanouk set up FUNCINPEC in Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 in February 1981, with a central committee of 100 prominent Cambodian exiles. FUNCINPEC was formed, with the encouragement of ASEAN states, in order to provide an alternative resistance against the Vietnamese to that offered by the Khmer Rouge, who were still holding out in the remote north-west and west of the country, and to the loose organisation of the KPNLF, who were broadly favoured by the US and western powers in general. Later that year, Sihanouk recruited the veteran politician In Tam
In Tam
In Tam was a former Prime Minister of Cambodia. He served in that position from May 6, 1973 to December 9 1973, and had a long career in Cambodian politics.-Political career:...

 - who had, ironically enough, been one of the main figures behind the 1970 coup - to form FUNCINPEC's armed wing, the Armee Nationale Sihanoukiste or ANS (Sihanouk National Army or Sihanoukist National Army). The ANS was accordingly formed with the bulk of its manpower coming from MOULINAKA, the remainder being drawn from the smaller armed groups Khleang Moeung, Sereika Odder Teus, Khmer Angkor, Praloeng Khmer, and Damrei Sar Phluk Khiev.


Throughout 1982 the ASEAN states, concerned about the presence of the PAVN, the Vietnamese army, in the border areas of Cambodia funneled aid and arms to the KPNLF and ANS through Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

. The Khmer Rouge's forces, the National Army of Democratic Kampuchea, continued to receive support from China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. However the success of the PAVN in clearing the border areas, and military defeats suffered by all three guerrilla groups, led the ASEAN states to apply pressure on the KPNLF, FUNCINPEC and the Khmer Rouge to coordinate their efforts. Despite considerable disagreements, especially between the Khmer Rouge and the KPNLF - Son Sann remaining firmly opposed to any agreement whatsoever - this resulted in the formation of the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea
Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea
The Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea was a coalition government in exile composed of three Cambodian political factions: Prince Norodom Sihanouk's Funcinpec party, the Party of Democratic Kampuchea and the Khmer People's National Liberation Front formed in 1982, broadening the de...

 subsequent to the signing of an agreement in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur is the capital and the second largest city in Malaysia by population. The city proper, making up an area of , has a population of 1.4 million as of 2010. Greater Kuala Lumpur, also known as the Klang Valley, is an urban agglomeration of 7.2 million...

 in June 1982. Sihanouk, representing FUNCINPEC, was President; Khieu Samphan
Khieu Samphan
Khieu Samphan was the president of the state presidium of Democratic Kampuchea from 1976 until 1979. As such, he served as Cambodia's head of state and was one of the most powerful officials in the Khmer Rouge movement, though Pol Pot was the group's true political leader and held the most...

, representing the Khmer Rouge, Vice-President, and Son Sann Prime Minister.

In the meantime, disagreements between Sihanouk and In Tam led to the latter's removal, and Prince Norodom Ranariddh
Norodom Ranariddh
Prince Norodom Ranariddh is the second son of former king Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia and a half brother of the current king, Norodom Sihamoni.-Biography:...

, one of Sihanouk's sons, took control of the ANS. At this stage the ANS was the smallest of the three armed movements fielded by the three components of the Coalition Government.

The later 1980s

In the late 1980s, prior to the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops and formation of Cambodia's governing political coalition, Son Sann
Son Sann
Son Sann was a Cambodian politician and anti-communist resistance leader. Born in Phnom Penh, he held the office of Prime Minister in 1967-68. A devout Buddhist, he fathered seven children and was married....

's Khmer People's National Liberation Front
Khmer People's National Liberation Front
The Khmer People's National Liberation Front was a political front organized in 1979 in opposition to the Vietnamese-installed People's Republic of Kampuchea regime in Cambodia...

 (KPNLF) and Sihanouk's ANS drew some military and financial support from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, which sought to assist these two movements as part of the Reagan Doctrine
Reagan Doctrine
The Reagan Doctrine was a strategy orchestrated and implemented by the United States under the Reagan Administration to oppose the global influence of the Soviet Union during the final years of the Cold War...

 effort to counter Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

ese involvement in Cambodia. One of the Reagan Doctrine's principal architects, the Heritage Foundation
Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation is a conservative American think tank based in Washington, D.C. Heritage's stated mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong...

's Michael Johns
Michael Johns (executive)
Michael Johns is an American health care executive, former federal government of the United States official and conservative policy analyst and writer.-Biography:...

, visited with Sonn Sann and ANS forces in Cambodia in 1987, and returned to Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 urging expanded U.S. support for the KPNLF and the Sihanouk resistance forces as a third alternative to both the Vietnamese-installed and supported Cambodian government and the Khmer Rouge, which also was resisting the government. FUNCINPEC and the ANS were also to receive support from China, alongside their existing supply of the Khmer Rouge.

The KPNLF was in the meantime severely damaged by a 1986 split between Son Sann and its military wing, led by General Sak Sutsakhan
Sak Sutsakhan
General Sak Sutsakhan was a Cambodian politician and soldier who had a long career in the country's politics. He was the last Head of State of the Khmer Republic, the regime overthrown by the Khmer Rouge in 1975. Sak Sutsakhan formed a pro-US force known as the "Khmer Sâ" .-Early life:Sutsakhan...

, one of the favoured candidates of the United States for leadership. A combination of military reversals and the effects of infighting led to its forces falling from around 20,000 to 10,000 by 1987. FUNCINPEC and the ANS, on the other hand, benefiting from its unified structure and Sihanouk's status, began to increase its prominence. The Khmer Rouge expanded from their bases in the Cardamom Mountains
Cardamom Mountains
The Krâvanh Mountains, literally the "Cardamom Mountains" , is a mountain range in the south west of Cambodia, jutting into southeastern Thailand.-Location and description:...

 to set up at Phnom Malay on the Thai border, while the ANS created a new field headquarters at Tatum. Despite continuing reports of clashes between the Khmer Rouge troops and the ANS, which the Khmer Rouge generally blamed on the Vietnamese, the two groups were able to coordinate operations during 1987, attacking the town of Battambang
Battambang is the capital city of Battambang province in northwestern Cambodia.Battambang is the second-largest city in Cambodia with a population of over 250,000. Founded in the 11th century by the Khmer Empire, Battambang is well known for being the leading rice-producing province of the country...

 and arranging joint patrols as far as Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonized Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation's center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security,...


After the 1991 Peace Settlement

Following the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Cambodia, Sihanouk's son, Prince Norodom Ranariddh
Norodom Ranariddh
Prince Norodom Ranariddh is the second son of former king Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia and a half brother of the current king, Norodom Sihamoni.-Biography:...

, served as co-prime minister with Hun Sen
Hun Sen
Hun Sen is the current Prime Minister of Cambodia.He has been the sole leader of the Cambodian People's Party , which has governed Cambodia since the Vietnamese-backed overthrow of the Khmer Rouge in 1979...

 from 1993 to 1997, and led the party until October 2006; current leader Keo Puth Rasmey
Keo Puth Rasmey
Keo Puth Rasmey is a Cambodian politician. On 19 October 2006 he was appointed to lead Funcinpec, the royalist party of Cambodia, replacing former leader Norodom Ranariddh. He is the son-in-law of Norodom Sihanouk, former king of Cambodia, and is of Chinese descent.- External links :*...

 succeeded Ranariddh.

Sihanouk returned to Cambodia, again as King, in 1992. However, despite FUNCINPEC being the largest party in the governing coalition with the Cambodian People's Party
Cambodian People's Party
The Cambodian People's Party is the current ruling party of Cambodia.This party was formerly known as Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party...

, it was disrupted by internal factionalism throughout the early 1990s. The princes who headed the party - Ranariddh, Sihanouk's half-brother Norodom Sirivudh, and Sisowath Sirirath (the son of Sirik Matak, who deposed Sihanouk in the 1970 coup) - disagreed violently over corruption, Vietnam, the Khmer Rouge, land reform, and other issues. In May 1994 Sihanouk despairingly commented "there is a civil war between the Khmer Rouge and royal armed forces, civil war within FUNCINPEC, civil war everywhere". The 1997 clashes in Cambodia
1997 clashes in Cambodia
The 1997 clashes in Cambodia, also referred to as 1997 coup in Cambodia , took place in Cambodia in July and August, 1997. As a result, co-premier Hun Sen ousted the other co-premier Norodom Ranariddh...

, 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
National Assembly of Cambodia
The National Assembly of Cambodia or Radhsphea is the lower house of the Parliament of Cambodia.It has 123 members, elected for five year terms by proportional representation, using provinces as constituencies of 1 to 18 members, and the D'Hondt method of seat distribution.-Elections:Summary of the...

, FUNCINPEC took second place with 43 of 123 seats, establishing the Cambodian People's Party
Cambodian People's Party
The Cambodian People's Party is the current ruling party of Cambodia.This party was formerly known as Kampuchean People's Revolutionary 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
Senate of Cambodia
The Senate of Cambodia is the upper house of the Parliament of Cambodia.According to the , The Senate is a body that has legislative power and performs its duties as determined in the constitution and law. The Senate consists of 58 members that the number of which does not exceed half of all of...

, the party took 19% of the vote and 12 of the 61 seats. After Norodom Ranariddh
Norodom Ranariddh
Prince Norodom Ranariddh is the second son of former king Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia and a half brother of the current king, Norodom Sihamoni.-Biography:...

 was dismissed from the party leadership, he left to form the Norodom Ranariddh Party
Norodom Ranariddh Party
The Norodom Ranariddh Party is a Cambodian political party created by Prince Norodom Ranariddh, who has left the Royalist FUNCINPEC party of which he was previously leader/chairman....

. FUNCINPEC and the Norodom Ranariddh Party both suffered a massive defeat in the 2008 National Assembly elections, receiving only 2 seats each. The Cambodian People's Party won a landslide victory, the Sam Rainsy Party
Sam Rainsy Party
The Sam Rainsy Party is a personalist and more or less liberal party in Cambodia. The party is a member of the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats...

 became the second largest party and was confirmed as the main opposition party, and even the new Human Rights Party
Human Rights Party (Cambodia)
The Human Rights Party is a Cambodian political party founded on 22 July 2007 led by Kem Sokha. Critics allege that its foundation is meant to weaken opposition parties and is driven by the ruling party...

became stronger than FUNCINPEC.