With elections due in Cambodia this month, the usual criticisms are being thrown at the ruling Cambodian Peoples Party. These include allegations of authoritarianism, being Vietnamese puppets, and probably most offensively that they are one and the same with the brutal Khmer Rouge.
To read about the dynastic succession in Cambodia click here.
The birth of the Cambodian Peoples Party
Two dates could be given for the birth of what would become the Cambodian Peoples Party (CPP), with the choice of dates depending on what ideological line you take. What would become the Khmer Rouge, or rather the Communist Party of Kampuchea was formed in 1951 as the Kampuchean Peoples Revolutionary Party. The party was communist in nature, but of the more benign Vietnamese, or Soviet variety.
Things though were to change in 1960 when the party changed into the Workers Party of Kampuchea, under the leadership of Pol Pot, with the party moving to an anti-revisionist far-left ideology.
To read about Ta Mok click here
The party would of course become the Communist Party of Kampuchea, with its armed wing the Khmer Rouge creating Democratic Kampuchea and the hell that was the Killing Fields
How complicit were the Khmer Rouge rank and file?
While the leadership of Democratic Kampuchea were undoubtedly extremists, this cannot be said for all of the party, with many Communist Party of Kampuchea members also being victims of the regime.
The excesses of the Pol Pot clique would eventually lead to a number of Cambodian communists fleeing to Vietnam with the aim of returning and setting to a genuinely socialist regime. One of these people was Hun Sen.
Eventually these people did return and far from it being a Vietnamese invasion, it was led by moderate Cambodian communists. Democratic Kampuchea was vanquished and a new state was set up.
The Peoples Republic of Kampuchea
Despite its lack of recognition the newly formed Peoples Republic of Kampuchea let by the reformed Kampuchean Peoples Revolutionary Parity genuinely improved the lives of the people, despite being still at war with the Khmer Rouge remnants.
To read about the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea click here.
This party would also lead the peace drives that led to the 1993 elections, democracy and economic liberalization. It was also during this time that the party renamed itself to the Cambodian Peoples Party, a big tent party to govern what was agin a kingdom.
And the party traced its lineage to the party of 1951, not recognizing the Khmer Rouge years.
What did the Khmer Rouge think off the Cambodian Peoples Party
The Khmer Rouge considered the CPP and its former iterations as puppets of the Vietnamese. They also traced their lineage to 1960 and the Workers Party of Kampuchea, rather than 1951. Therefore the Khmer Rouge considered those of the CPP enemies and not of the same beliefs
Eventually of course the CPP would end the Khmer Rouge rebellion through the Win-Win policy that essentially meant the Khmer Rouge laying down their arms in exchange for being integrated into society. In essence they were beaten by the CPP.
To read about the Win-Win policy pick here.
So, while there are links between the CPP and the Khmer Rouge, looking at thing subjectively shows that not only did they become seperate beasts over 40 years ago, but that it was the CPP that not only destroyed Democratic Kampuchea, but also the Khmer Rouge itself.
So, is Cambodia still ran by the Khmer Rouge? No it is ran by its liberators.