Son Sann
Son Sann was a Cambodian
Khmer people
Khmer people are the predominant ethnic group in Cambodia, accounting for approximately 90% of the 14.8 million people in the country. They speak the Khmer language, which is part of the larger Mon–Khmer language family found throughout Southeast Asia...

 politician and anti-communist resistance leader. Born in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh is the capital and largest city of Cambodia. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh has been the national capital since the French colonized Cambodia, and has grown to become the nation's center of economic and industrial activities, as well as the center of security,...

, he held the office of Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Cambodia
The Prime Minister of Cambodia , is the head of government of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Prime Minister is appointed by the King under Article 119 of the Constitution and is responsible for leading the government of the Kingdom.-Constitutional powers:The powers of the Prime Minister are established...

 in 1967-68. A devout Buddhist, he fathered seven children and was married.

Son Sann studied in Phnom Penh and later Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, where he graduated from the École des Hautes Études Commerciales in 1933. He briefly spent time in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, learning English in the process. Having returned to Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

 in 1935 he joined the Civil Service, serving in the provinces of Prey Veng and later Battambang
Battambang Province
Battambang is a province in northwestern Cambodia. It is bordered to the North with Banteay Meanchey, to the West with Thailand, and to the East and South with Pursat. The capital of the province is the city of Battambang. The name, meaning 'lost staff', refers to the legend of Preah Bat Dambang...

 where he was in charge of trade. Son Sann was also a member of a Cambodian economic mission to Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

 in 1941.

Political career

An early supporter of the Khmer Democratic Party, Son Sann became a member of its steering committee. He served as the vice-president of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Finance in the Sisowath Youtévong government from 1946-47. Following the death of Youtévong he retained his post as vice-president of the council of ministers (effectively Deputy Premier) until February 1948. He became Foreign Minister in June 1950-March 1951. Following the "crushing" of the Democrat Party in 1952, he resigned from the leadership of the party. He re-entered politics as a member of the Sangkum
The Sangkum Reastr Niyum , commonly known simply as the Sangkum, was a political organisation set up in 1955 by Prince Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia...

 party and served in several governments in the late 1950s to the early 1960s holding various posts before becoming president of the National Bank of Cambodia
National Bank of Cambodia
The National Bank of Cambodia, located in Phnom Penh, is the central bank of Cambodia. The bank's duties include, inter alia, the management of monetary and exchange policies, the regulation of banks and financial institutions, and the control of the national currency, the riel...


House arrest and France

Following the 1970 coup against Prince Norodom Sihanouk
Norodom Sihanouk
Norodom Sihanouk regular script was the King of Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until his semi-retirement and voluntary abdication on 7 October 2004 in favor of his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni...

, Son Sann was placed under house arrest and later left for France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

. In June 1970 he went to Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

 to attempt a reconciliation between Sihanouk and Lon Nol
Lon Nol
Lon Nol was a Cambodian politician and general who served as Prime Minister of Cambodia twice, as well as serving repeatedly as Defense Minister...

, who had overthrown him. He continued with these efforts even after the October proclamation of the Khmer Republic
Khmer Republic
The Khmer Republic or République Khmère, was the republican government of Cambodia that was formally declared on October 9, 1970. The Khmer Republic was disestablished in 1975 and was followed by the totalitarian communist state known as Democratic Kampuchea.-Background:Formally declared on October...

 and by late 1971 he had gained the support of politicians and diplomats in Cambodia, France and China. However in 1972 the Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai
Zhou Enlai was the first Premier of the People's Republic of China, serving from October 1949 until his death in January 1976...

 denounced the initiative and Lon Nol responded by naming himself President of the Khmer Republic.

Return to Cambodia

In 1978, he formed the Khmer People's National Liberation Front
Khmer People's National Liberation Front
The Khmer People's National Liberation Front was a political front organized in 1979 in opposition to the Vietnamese-installed People's Republic of Kampuchea regime in Cambodia...

 (KPNLF) to unite anti-communist refugees on the Thai-Cambodia border following the 1979 Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia. The KPNLF later joined with the Armeè Nationale Sihanouk to form the non-communist resistance and in 1982, the KPNLF joined with Sihanouk and the Party of Democratic Kampuchea
Party of Democratic Kampuchea
Party of Democratic Kampuchea was a political party in Cambodia, formed as a continuation of the Communist Party of Kampuchea in December 1981. In the mid-1980s it publicly claimed that its ideology was "democratic socialism," having ostensibly renounced Communism.-History:The dissolution of CPK...

 to form the Coalition Government of Kampuchea. Son Sann was named Prime Minister in the new coalition government.

United States support

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Sonn Sann drew some limited military and financial support from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, which sought to assist his movement as part of the Reagan Doctrine
Reagan Doctrine
The Reagan Doctrine was a strategy orchestrated and implemented by the United States under the Reagan Administration to oppose the global influence of the Soviet Union during the final years of the Cold War...

 effort to counter Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 and Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

ese involvement in Cambodia. One of the Reagan Doctrine's principal architects, the Heritage Foundation
Heritage Foundation
The Heritage Foundation is a conservative American think tank based in Washington, D.C. Heritage's stated mission is to "formulate and promote conservative public policies based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong...

's Michael Johns
Michael Johns (executive)
Michael Johns is an American health care executive, former federal government of the United States official and conservative policy analyst and writer.-Biography:...

, visited with Sonn Sann and KPNLF forces in Cambodia in 1987, and returned to Washington
Washington, D.C.
Washington, D.C., formally the District of Columbia and commonly referred to as Washington, "the District", or simply D.C., is the capital of the United States. On July 16, 1790, the United States Congress approved the creation of a permanent national capital as permitted by the U.S. Constitution....

 urging expanded U.S. support for the KPNLF and the resistance forces of Norodom Sihanouk as a third alternative to both the Vietnamese-installed and supported Cambodian government and the Khmer Rouge
Khmer Rouge
The Khmer Rouge literally translated as Red Cambodians was the name given to the followers of the Communist Party of Kampuchea, who were the ruling party in Cambodia from 1975 to 1979, led by Pol Pot, Nuon Chea, Ieng Sary, Son Sen and Khieu Samphan...

, which also was resisting the government. The U.S. responded by providing limited military and humanitarian aid to the Sonn Sann and Sihanouk resistance forces in Cambodia in an effort to pressure the Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

ese to leave Cambodia and also to build a non-communist opposition alternative to the Khmer Rouge.

Following Cambodia's Paris Peace Agreement, Son Sann formed a new political party, the Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party
Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party
The Buddhist Liberal Democratic Party was a Cambodian political party founded in 1993 by former Cambodian Prime Minister Son Sann. The BLDP was created as a successor to the Khmer People's National Liberation Front , an anti-communist group also started by Son Sann.-1993 Cambodian election:The...

 in 1992 and participated in the 1993 elections. Son Sann was elected along with nine other members of the party and served as a minority member in the coalition government. He was President of the National Assembly from June to October 1993.

In 1997, Son Sann left Cambodia again for Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, where he remained with his family until his death from heart failure, on December 19, 2000, at 89 years of age.
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