Under pressure from United States officials, Gen. Nguyen Khanh and the newly formed Armed Forces Council–generals who participated in the bloodless coup on December 19, 1964–agree to support the civilian government of Premier Trran Van Huong.
The coup occurred when Khanh and a group of generals, led by Air Commodore Nguyen Cao Ky and Army Maj. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu, arrested three dozen high officers and civilian officials and took control of the government. The coup was part of the continuing political instability that followed 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.
In addition to pledging to support Huong, Khanh and the generals agreed to release five High National Council members and 50 others arrested during the coup. They also promised to confine their activities to the military sphere. A national convention was to be convened to “assume legislative powers” and to draw up a permanent constitution. However, this did not happen. Tran Van Huong was unable to put together a viable government and the Armed Forces Council ousted him on January 27 and installed General Khanh to power. Khanh was ousted by yet another coup on February 18, led by Ky and Thieu. Khanh then moved 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. They served together until 1971, when Thieu was re-elected president.