Hun Sen, Prime Minister
Cambodian People's Party (CPP)
The CPP, the ruling party of the former socialist State of Cambodia (SoC) regime which had governed Cambodia since 1979 (originally under the name of the People's Republic of Kampuchea) remains the dominant political force in Cambodia. The CPP's authority lies in in the state administration at both national and local levels and in the national security forces. It effectively resisted UNTAC efforts to neutralise its political influence in the state administration as called for by the Paris agreements.
The National United Front for an Independent, Neutral, Peaceful, and Cooperative Cambodia (FUNCINPEC) began as an armed movement in 1981. It was formed by King Sihanouk. FUNCINPEC was one of the two non-communist members of the thre party-resistant coalition. It fought the Vietnamese-backed PRK/SoC regime during the 1980s. In 1989 Prince Norodom Ranariddh, one of Sihanouk's sons, took over the leadership of FUNCINPEC. Under Prince Ranariddh, FUNCINPEC involved into a political machine in 1992; it won the general election in 1993.
SAM RAINSY PARTY
The SRP was formed in 1995, originally under the name of the Khmer Nation Party (KNP), by ex-FUNCINPEC Finance Minister Sam Raisy. Rainsy's willingness to challenge government corruption during his brief stint in government from 1993-95 earned him the wrath of both Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh and led to his expulsion from both the government and the National Assembly. The government strongly opposed the establishment of the KNP and after it split in 1996 the Sam Rainsy wing adopted his name.
Khieu Samphan & Noun Chea
The Khmer Rouge emerged from the Cambodian communist party, formed in 1951 with the backing of Vietnam. During their period in power from 1975-79, the regime known as 'Democratic Kampuchea', the Khmer Rouge killed over 1,000,000 Cambodians.
With the death of Pol Pot in May 1998, the key surviving leaders, Ta Mok, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, are the likely subjects of a possible Cambodian war crimes tribunal under either the authority of the international community or the Cambodian government.
Buddhist Liberal Party (BLP)/Son Sann Party
The BLP and the Son Sann Party emerged from a split within the BLDP (Buddhist Liberal Democrat Party) which had a role in the post-1993 coalition government. The BLDP emerged from the Khmer People's National Liberation Front (KPLNF) which was formed in 1980 by Son Sann, a former Prime Minister during the 1960s. It was one of the three resistance factions allied against the government in Phnom Penh during the 1980s. After the 1995 split in the BLDP, the faction led by deputy Ieng Mouly remained aligned to the CPP, while the Son Sann Party allied itself with the opposition. Neither party gained seats in the 1998 elections.
HM King Norodom Sihanouk
King Norodom Sihanouk is Cambodia's constitutional monarch; he is the formal head of state. He was crowned in 1941 by the French colonial authority. He led Cambodia to independence in 1953. Since then he has been the most dominant and enduring figure in Cambodian political life.