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Cambodia

Yearbook 2012

Cambodia. The ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) with Prime Minister Hun Sen at the head maintained its firm grip on power. In an election to the Senate (parliament's House of Commons) in January, the CPP extended its majority to 46 of 57 electoral seats. Other mandates went to opposition party Sam Rangsy's party (SRP). No other party candidate for the election. The Senate's representatives are elected indirectly by local assemblies and by members of Parliament's lower house, the National Assembly.

2012 Cambodia

According to countryaah, the Special Tribunal, which is tasked with probing still-living leaders of the Red Khmer regime, who ruled the country from 1975 to 79, in February dismissed Kang Kek Ieus, or Comrade Duchs, on the sentence of 35 years in prison to which he was sentenced in July 2010. Duch was head of the Red Khmer regime's infamous prison S-21, where about 16,000 people were tortured and murdered. Duch's punishment was instead extended to life imprisonment for crimes against humanity. In 2007, the Red Khmer Tribunal prosecuted four more senior leaders of the Maoist regime for crimes against humanity and genocide: Chief Ideologist Nuon Chea, Foreign Minister Ieng Sary, Social Minister Ieng Thirith and Red Khmer Head of State Khieu Samphan. However, Ieng Thirith was released in September 2012 after she was found to be too ill to be able to pass a trial in a meaningful way. Their trials began in November 2011. In March 2012, one of the UN-appointed judges resigned in protest of one of the Cambodian judges putting a spanner in the wheel for the UN's attempt to bring additional suspects to trial.

In the protracted conflict with Thailand over ownership of land near the Preah Vihear temple at the border, the two neighboring countries in April decided to jointly clear mines in a demilitarized zone around the temple area. But no troop uprising was carried out despite an agreement on this in December 2011. A number of military clashes have occurred in recent years between Thai and Cambodian forces stationed in the area. However, after further negotiations in July, the agreed squad retreats could be carried out.

Leading environmental activist Chut Wutty was reported in April to have been shot dead by military police in the province of Koh Kong, where a Chinese company built a hydroelectric plant. According to media, Wutty must have been in the area to review data on extensive illegal logging and log smuggling in the area. According to media, the policeman is said to have been in trouble with Wutty and shot both Wutty and himself. However, the details of Wutty's death were unclear. In May, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the government would withdraw permits for private companies to exploit forests and arable land. The decision was a consequence of what happened to Wutty and aimed to curb illegal logging and forced displacement of locals in these areas.

Cambodia's former monarch, Norodom Sihanouk, passed away in October at the age of 89 in Beijing. Sihanouk was appointed king of the colonial power of France as early as 1941, and for several decades thereafter played a crucial role in many important events in the country's history. Not least, he led the Cambodians' liberation from France, which led to independence in 1953. Sihanouk exerted a great influence over Cambodia until the abdication in 2004, when he handed over the throne to his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni.

Cambodia was the host country of the Southeast Asian cooperation organization ASEAN during the year. Several major meetings were held during the year in the capital Phnom Penh. The increasingly overwhelming issue was the growing conflict between a number of countries in the region over the right to territorial waters surrounding the Spratly and Paracel archipelago in the South China Sea. In addition to nationalist sentiments, the availability of fish and probably oil in the waters also fueled the conflict. Cambodia received criticism from other countries, mainly Vietnam, for supporting China on the issue. The conflict was so escalated that, for the first time in July, ASEAN never failed to gather around a joint communique on how member states should act to minimize the damage of the conflict.

In November, the government made a controversial decision when it gave the go-ahead to build a large pond at a tributary to the Mekong. In addition to Cambodia, China and Vietnam had also invested in the power plant construction. Environmental activists protested that the decision meant major damage to the environment and that thousands of locals would be forced to relocate. However, Phnom Penh said the government's environmental investigations did not come to the same conclusion.

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