Powersharing Transitional Government: Framework for a Comprehensive Political Settlement of the Cambodia Conflict

PARIS AGREEMENT

Part I

Section III. Supreme National Council

Article 3

The Supreme National Council (hereinafter referred to as "the SNC") is the unique legitimate body and source of authority in which, throughout the transitional period, the sovereignty, independence and unity of Cambodia are enshrined.

Article 4

The members of the SNC shall be committed to the holding of free and fair elections organized and conducted by the United Nations as the basis for forming a new and legitimate Government.

Article 5

The SNC shall, throughout the transitional period, represent Cambodia externally and occupy the seat of Cambodia at the United Nations, in the United Nations specialized agencies, and in other international institutions and international conferences.

Article 6

The SNC hereby delegates to the United Nations all powers necessary to ensure the implementation of this Agreement, as described in annex 1.

In order to ensure a neutral political environment conducive to free and fair general elections, administrative agencies, bodies and offices which could directly influence the outcome of elections will be placed under direct United Nations supervision or control. In that context, special attention will be given to foreign affairs, national defence, finance, public security and information. To reflect the importance of these subjects, UNTAC needs to exercise such control as is necessary to ensure the strict neutrality of the bodies responsible for them. The United Nations, in consultation with the SNC, will identify which agencies, bodies and offices could continue to operate in order to ensure normal day-to-day life in the country.

Article 7

The relationship between the SNC, UNTAC and existing administrative structures is set forth in annex 1.

(Clarification: Why does SNC qualify national power-sharing? After meeting in New York on 27 and 28 August, 1990, the "Big Five"--China, France, the United Kingdom, the USSR and the United States--jointly stated that the framework document was composed of five sections "comprising the indispensable requirements for such a settlement". The Five also called on the parties to the conflict to commit themselves to that process and to form a Supreme National Council as soon as possible on the basis outlined in the document.1 The informal meeting of the parties to the conflict took place in Jakarta on 10 September 1990 and finalized the composition of the SNC. The Cambodian parties present in the informal meeting finalized the 12 member SNC as: Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk (President), the state of Cambodia (six members), KPNLF (2 members), FUNCINPEC (1 Member), Democratic Kampuchea or Khmer Rouge (2 members).2

  • 1. "'Big Five' reach final agreement on framework for settlement - Security Council permanent members, Cambodia," UN Chronicle 27(4)  (December 1990).
  • 2. Nady Tan, “National Conference on Peace, National reconciliation and Democracy Building: Ten Years after the Paris Peace Agreement,” 2001, accessed July 14, 2010, http://www.camnet.com.kh/ocm/government102.htm.

Implementation History

1991

Intermediate Implementation

The informal meeting of the parties to the conflict took place in Jakarta on September 10, 1990. In this meeting the composition of the Supreme National Council (SNC) was finalized. The Cambodian parties present in the informal meeting agreed that the 12 member SNC would be comprised in the following way: Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk as President; six members from the State of Cambodia; 2 members from the Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPNLF); 1 member from the National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC); and 2 members from the Democratic Kampuchea or Khmer Rouge. 1 Throughout the transitional period, the SNC was the legitimate body and source of authority in which the sovereignty, independence, and unity of Cambodia were enshrined.

On 20 November 1991, Hun Sen – leader of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) and Chairman of the State of Cambodia's Council of Ministers – and Prince Norodom Ranariddh – Secretary-General of FUNCINPEC – signed a memorandum establishing an alliance between the CPP and FUNCINPEC, as did members of the Supreme National Council of Cambodia.2

  • 1. Nady Tan, “National Conference on Peace, National reconciliation and Democracy Building: Ten Years after the Paris Peace Agreement,” 2001, accessed July 14, 2010, http://www.camnet.com.kh/ocm/government102.htm.
  • 2. “Alliance between CPP and FUNCINPEC,” BBC Summary of World Broadcasts, November 22, 1991.
1992

Intermediate Implementation

Throughout the transitional period, the SNC continued to work as the legitimate governing body and source of authority in which the sovereignty, independence, and unity of Cambodia were enshrined.

1993

Full Implementation

Elections took place from May 23 to 28, 1993. FUNCINPEC won 58 seats in the Constituent Assembly, CPP won 51, the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party (BLDP) won 10, and a fourth political party, the National Movement for the Liberation of Kampuchea (MOLINAKA), won 1. At the June 10 meeting of the SNC, which was presided over by Prince Norodom Sihanouk, the Special Representative of the Secretary-General issued a statement on behalf of the Secretary-General and the United Nations declaring that the elections as a whole had been free and fair. The Security Council endorsed the results of the elections with resolution 840 (1993) of June 15. However, the CPP began to make numerous allegations that electoral irregularities had occurred as the counting proceeded. It also requested that the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) hold new elections in seven provinces. At the June 10 meeting of the SNC, the CPP announced that it could not recognize the results of the elections and demanded an investigation of the irregularities.

Over time, the CPP softened its position. The duly elected Constituent Assembly began work on June 14, 1993. At the inaugural session, it adopted a resolution to make Prince Sihanouk Head of State retroactive to 1970, thus making the coup d'état of March 18, 1970 null and void. The Assembly gave the Prince full powers as Head of State. The following day, Prince Sihanouk proposed the formation of an Interim Joint Administration (GNPC) with Prince Ranariddh and Mr. Hun Sen as Co-Chairmen.3 This occurrence indicated a degree of confidence between FUNCINPEC and the CPP.

On June 16, FUNCINPEC and the CPP agreed to interim power sharing – an agreement brokered by Sihanouk. As per this agreement, all four political parties that had won representation in the Constituent Assembly would be represented in the Provisional National Government of Cambodia (PNGC). FUNCINPEC and the CPP would divide control of the major ministries, and Ranariddh and Hun Sen would serve as Co-Chairs of the PNGC and as Co-Ministers of Defense, Interior, and Public Security.

Ranariddh and Hun Sen met on June 24 to discuss the formation of the PNGC. Although they reached an agreement on the composition of the government, this agreement had not been introduced to the Assembly as of early July.4 FUNCINPEC, in the Council of Ministers, shared power with the CPP. Given that this was a unique circumstance it can be coded as continuation of power-sharing deals - perhaps of a different nature. (With a resolution adopted by the Constituent Assembly on June 14, 1993 to restore monarchy by making the coup of March 18, 1970 null and void, and with the departure of UNTAC on September 21, 1993, the power-sharing agreement between warring parties can be coded as “ended” in Cambodia. Since the SNC was still in place as of June 14, 1993, 1993 can be coded as a year where there was national power-sharing.)

1994

Full Implementation

Sihanouk’s proposed formation of an Interim Joint Administration (GNPC), with Prince Ranariddh and Mr. Hun Sen as Co-Chairmen of the Council of Ministers, continued into 1994.

1995

Full Implementation

Sihanouk’s proposed formation of an Interim Joint Administration (GNPC), with Prince Ranariddh and Mr. Hun Sen as Co-Chairmen of the Council of Ministers, continued into 1995.

1996

Full Implementation

Joint leadership of the government continued between FUNCINPEC and the CCP (both signatories of the Paris agreement). Power-sharing shifted dramatically in the new coalition government.5 The CPP never really shared power in the coalition government, but obstructed all efforts by FUNCINPEC to govern. FUNCINPEC, for its part, lacked qualified administrators. The coalition never functioned well, and over the course of the three years, it descended in an ever-worsening spiral.

  • 5. Sorpong Peou, Intervention & Change in Cambodia: Towards Democracy? (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2000), ch. 5-6.
1997

Full Implementation

Power-sharing between FUNCINPEC and the CPP collapsed during the July 7, 1997 coup. Hun Sen, the leader of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), overthrew Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh in a brutal, bloody coup.6 This formally brought about the termination of the power-sharing deals, which had extended beyond 1993 – the year when the Constituent Assembly restored the monarch and UNTAC concluded its mission in Cambodia.

1998

Intermediate Implementation

In a July election, Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won 64 of parliament's 122 seats, but was short of the number required to form a new government alone. The CPP and FUNCINPEC formed a coalition government. The CPP received 12 ministries, FUNCINPEC took 11, and two were shared, while each party appointed a deputy premier.7  The new government was not evenly split in terms of power; the FUNCINPEC ministries were those that largely provided social services, like education, health, culture, and women’s affairs, while the CPP ministries were those with real power, including defense, interior, finance, and information. In this new arrangement, the CPP secured control over state power. As a matter of fact, this coalition government was formed not because of provisions in the peace agreement but because of the electoral outcome.

  • 7. “Back from the Brink: Cambodian Democracy Gets a Second Chance,” International Crisis Group, Asia Report N°4 (January 1999), 8.
1999

Intermediate Implementation

Multiparty elections took place in 1998. A coalition government was formed, which was different from the power-sharing provisions in the Paris Agreement.

2000

Intermediate Implementation

Multiparty elections took place in 1998. A coalition government was formed, which was different from the power-sharing provisions in the Paris Agreement.