Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
On March 18, 1970, the National Assembly was convened, and voted unanimously to depose Sihanouk as head of state. Lon Nol, who had been serving as prime minister, was granted emergency powers. Prince Sirik Matak, a royal prince who in 1941, had been passed over by the French government in favor of his cousin Norodom Sihanouk as king, retained his post as deputy prime minister.
Soon the Cambodian Civil War erupted between pro-coup forces loyal to Nol and the National United Front of Cambodia , a coalition which contained Sihanouk and other anti-Nol forces, including communists. Nol turned to the Americans for assistance in defeating the Khmer Rouge. On November 18, 1970, U.S. President Richard Nixon responded by asking the United States Congress for USD $155 million in supplemental aid for the Cambodian government ($85 million was allocated for military assistance). The Nixon administration and the CIA maintained friendly relations with Nol's government, frustrated with former King Sihanouk's neutralist position while North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong units were operating out of Cambodia. However, despite U.S. aid, Nol was unable to defeat the Khmer Rouge.
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