Lon Non Leaves Cambodia For Enforced Stay Abroad – The New York Times

General Lon Non spent much of the time before the 5 P.M. departure in the V.I.P. lounge with close friends and some newsmen who slipped in uninvited. His wife and family waited in the regular passenger lounge a common practice here, where women’s social status is lower than men’s.

The general finally emerged from the lounge and shook many hands, including that of Thomas 0. Enders, who is deputy chief of mission at the American Embassy here. The presence of Mr. Enders, was apparently intended to dispel, or at least soften, the notion that the Americans had railroaded General Lon Non out of town.

Mr. Enders exchanged brief but seemingly cordial pleasantries with the departing general. The American diplomat stands nearly, seven feet tall, and in a crowd of Cambodians, neither his presence nor his handshake with General Lon Non could be missed.

His Rise to Power

The fact that General Lon Non acquired enough critics and enemies to bring about his forced temporary exile is not entirely surprising.

When the war in Cambodia began in 1970 after the ouster of Prince Norodom Sihanouk, who now heads a government in exile in Peking, General Lon Non was a junior officer in the army who had risen out of the ranks of the police. He has continued to have influence in police and secret police circles.

After the stroke two years ago that partially incapacitated his brother, President Lon Nol, Gneral Lon Non began assuming more and more of the presidential authority — unofficially and behind the scenes, of course, but apparently with the blessing of the President. Everyone from, allies of the Government to other military commanders to opposition political leaders began complaining about his seemingly unlimited power.

Last fall he was suddenly and mysteriously promoted’ from colonel to brigadier general, and he then assumed command of the Third Division. No logical explanation was given for the promotion — he had caused considerable dissatisfaction in military ranks and other officers said he was not a capable commander.

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