One of the most powerful men in the Khmer Republic before his apparent downfall last year -- General Lon Non, younger brother of President Lon Nol -- returned unexpectedly to Phnom Penh on Saturday (21 September) in the midst of a new storm of controversy.
SV Lon Non out of aircraft, greeted by friends, and into car. Car drives away (2 shots)
SV Lon Non walks into conference room and makes statement
Initials BB/1730 FH/AH/BB/1744
Script is copyright Reuters Limited. All rights reserved
Background: One of the most powerful men in the Khmer Republic before his apparent downfall last year -- General Lon Non, younger brother of President Lon Nol -- returned unexpectedly to Phnom Penh on Saturday (21 September) in the midst of a new storm of controversy.
Until he was abruptly shipped off to the United States in April last year, it was reported that he virtually ruled the country. He'd risen rapidly to power under his brother's regime. He was a major in the armed forces when has brother seized power in 1970. Within two years he was a general and cabinet member. Later he became a "super-minister" responsible for liberation, construction, community development, mobilisation and pacification.
But he was never popular with the Khmer people. There were strong allegations of corruption against him. And it's been reported that the American finally intervened and insisted he be removed from power. His sojourn in the United States followed.
General Lon Non's return on Saturday (21 September) took the majority of Khmer people and United States diplomats by surprise. On Sunday (22 September) he gave a news conference at which he made it clear that he is back in Phnom Penh to stay.
There have already been reports that some factions of the Khmer people fear that President Lon Nol will name his younger brother Vice-President, a post that is currently unfilled. And there are also anxieties that such an action could cause unrest amongst the Khmer people and bring about a confrontation with their American allies.