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Khmer People's Revolutionary Party
The Khmer People's Revolutionary Party (sometimes called the Kampuchean People's Revolutionary Party) was founded in 1951 with the splitting of the Communist Party of Indochina into three separate parties. Members of the Khmer People's Revolutionary Party (KPRP) fought a guerrilla war in the Cambodian Issarak which took control of a large amount of Cambodian territory. Leaders included Tou Samouth, Sieu Hung and Son Ngoc Minh.
At the Geneva Conference of 1954, the Issarak had to give up the area of Cambodia they had control over, while the Vietnamese communists got to keep control of the area of Northern Vietnam that they controlled. Later, some Khmer communists felt they were betrayed by Vietnamese communists in respect to this. One mitigating factor though was that Cambodia was granted full independence while Vietnam had not been. Some thought the left would do well in the 1955 Cambodian elections. Cambodian communists ended their armed struggle in 1954.
Many Cambodian communists left Cambodia and went to the communist-controlled areas of Vietnam. The communists who remained formed the Pracheachon party and prepared for the 1955 elections. Later, Cambodian communists sympathetic to Vietnam said that the Pracheachon Party was a front group, and that a clandestine Cambodian temporary central committee was formed at this time.
Starting around this time, Cambodian students began returning from France, and this new generation would have an impact on Cambodian politics. The wave of students arriving in 1954 and 1955 generally joined the Democrat party, whereas later they joined the Sangkum party. These students may have had secret connections with the Cambodian communists at the time.
The KPRP divided into two factions - an urban-based one run by Tou Samouth, and a rural-based one run by Sieu Heng.
The Pracheachon party began to come under attack. Several of its prominent members were arrested. Sieu Heng, who began betraying the communist movement in 1955, defected completely in 1959 and helped the government destroy almost all of his rural base.
On September 30, 1960, a meeting of communists took place in a room in the Phnom Penh railroad station. What happened at this meeting is contended. The Vietnamese-sympathetic say that this was the second conference of the KPRP. Others say that this was the founding meeting of the Workers' Party of Kampuchea which was later renamed the Communist Party of Kampuchea. All sides agree that Tou Samouth was elected party secretary. The next generation of communists, the students returned from France, gained prominent positions on the Politburo and central committee of the party.