December 19

This Day in History

Vietnam War

Dec 19, 1964:

Another bloodless coup topples the government in Saigon

Another bloodless coup occurs when Maj. Gen. Nguyen Khanh and a group of generals led by Air Commodore Nguyen Cao Ky and Army Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu arrest three dozen high officers and civilian officials. The coup was part of the continuing political instability that erupted after the November 1963 coup that resulted in the murder of President Ngo Dinh Diem. The period following the overthrow of Diem was marked by a series of coups and "revolving door" governments. The coup on this day was engineered by a faction of younger military officers known as the "Young Turks," who were fed up with what they believed was the ineffective government headed by a group of older generals known as the Military Revolutionary Council. Khanh and the newly formed Armed Forces Council, made up of the generals who had participated in the coup, restored civilian control on January 7, 1965, under Tran Van Huong. Hunon proved unable to put together a viable government and the Armed Forces Council ousted him on January 27 and installed Gen. Khanh in power. Khanh was ousted by yet another coup on February 18 led by Ky and Thieu. Khanh then went to the United States and settled in Palm Beach, Florida. A short-lived civilian government under Dr. Phan Huy Quat was installed, but it lasted only until June 12, 1965. At that time, Thieu and Ky formed a new government with Thieu as the chief of state and Ky as the prime minister. Thieu and Ky were elected as president and vice-president in general elections held in 1967.

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