Cambodia became a republic yesterday (October 9) in a colourful, heavily-guarded ceremony in Phnom Penh.?
Cambodia became a republic yesterday (October 9) in a colourful, heavily-guarded ceremony in Phnom Penh. After National Assembly President In Tam had proclaimed the new republic, Chief of State Cheng Heng, Prime Minister Lon No1 and Deputy Premier Sirik Matak watched the new flag raised in front of the former royal palace.
Before a packed chamber, the President of the National Assembly declared: "I, In Tam, officially proclaim the Khmer Republic. Our country is indivisible."
Then the Cambodian leaders walked from the National Assembly past lines of cheering schoolchildren to the newly named Place de la Republique. Prime Minister Lon No1, wearing army fatigues, slowly raised the red, white and blue ensign of the republic.
The flag ceremony was followed by a parade of 15,000 civil servants, workers and students. Behind the scenes, tanks were on standby at nearby barracks and military police armed with sub-machine guns and grenade launchers guarded the leaders.
But the only sign of discord at the ceremonies was on a diplomatic level. The envoys of the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Poland and East Germany were missing from the ceremonies. So were the ambassadors of France and India.
Details of the Republic's form of government are not yet clear. The combined Senate and National Assembly has voted to continue with an amended version of the present constitution until a new one can be prepared.
Cheng Heng, who left for the United Nations shortly after the ceremonies, is to remain head of state until a new President can be elected, and the National Assembly will eventually operate on the two-party basis -- though again details have not yet been decided.