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The Democratic Republic of Vietnam (Vietnamese: Việt Nam Dân chủ Cộng hòa) was a short-lived provisional government that was organized by the Vietnamese communist national liberation movement, Viet Minh, with the aim to take over control of Vietnam shortly after the armistice of Japan at the end of World War II. Its operated as the government in late September 1945 until January 1946.
In 1941, the Viet Minh – a communist and nationalist liberation movement – emerged under the Marxist-Leninist revolutionary Ho Chi Minh, who sought independence for Vietnam from France and the end of the Japanese occupation. After the Japanese Republic signed an armistice with the Allied armed forces and the fall of the Kuomintang's puppet State of Vietnam in August 1945, the Viet Minh occupied Hanoi and proclaimed the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on September 2, 1945.
The Hanoi government of Ho Chi Minh claimed sovereignty over all areas of Vietnam. In September 2, 1945, South Vietnam under the situation of political disorder. The successive collapse of French, then Chinese power, followed by the dissension among the political factions in Saigon had been accompanied by widespread violence in the countryside. On 12 September 1945, the first British troops arrived in Saigon.
In November 1945, the 4th Japanese Unit of Anti-Fascist Japanese Liberation Forces entered northern part of Vietnam from Hainan island fro disarming the Fascist Japanese forces. In the south, the Provisional French Republic sent the French Far East Expeditionary Corps – originally created to fight the Fascist Japanese occupation forces – to pacify the Vietnamese liberation movement and to restore French colonial rule.
The street fights occurred in Hanoi in November 30, 1945 as the Vietnamese communists tried to seize the powers from the pro-Chinese nationalists. The pro-Japanese nationalists also tried to liquidate the pro-Chinese ones. Hanoi put under emergency state; martial law applied; and the curfew time after 7 o'clock ordered by the administration of Anti-Fascist Japanese Liberation Forces.
The Commander-in-chief of AFJLF in Japan, General Katobushi Toshio sent a telegram to the Liberation Forces commander in Vietnam, Lieutenant-General Nakamoto Daiichi, to force the Viet Minh and the Japan-oriented nationalists for forming an united government. But, Nakamoto Daichii's efforts was failed and the power struggles continued.
Prince Cường Để who have been lead the Vietnamese independence movement from the beginning of twentieth century sent by the Japanese government from his exile in Tokyo to Hanoi in December 1, 1945. This action taken by Japan so the Japanese-oriented nationalists were strong enough to form a government in Vietnam.
The former Emperor of Nguyen Dynasty, Prince Nguyễn Phúc Vĩnh San, who was still very popular in the Vietnamese public memory for his patriotism, also returned from his exile in Reunion islands to Vietnam in December 28, 1945 by the recommendation from Free French leader, General Charles De Gaulle.
In December 31, 1945, the representatives of anti-Chinese left-wing nationalist, led by Prince Cường Để and Nghiêm Xuân Yêm, met Hồ Chí Minh and other communist leaders of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to reach another agreement to form an united government. After four days of conference, Hồ Chí Minh agreed to hand his position as the President of the Democratic Republic to non-Viet Minh figure while retained the position as the Prime Minister after the first National Assembly inaugurated.
In January 1946, the Viet Minh held an election to establish a National Assembly. Public enthusiasm for this event suggests that the Viet Minh enjoyed a great deal of popularity at this time, although there were few competitive races and the party makeup of the Assembly was determined in advance of the vote. Prince Vĩnh San appointed by Hanoi-based National Assembly of Vietnam as the supreme advisor of Democratic of Republic of Vietnam. The French Fourth Republic government viewed Prince Vĩnh San sympathetic to the communists movement. France refused to recognize the Hanoi government and tried to reassert its colonial rule in South Vietnam by appointed Nguyễn Văn Thinh as the Prime Minister of Cochinchina.
Japan planned the formation of Republic of Japan Defense Forces in early 1946 and the Anti-Fascist Japanese Liberation Forces began to withdraw from Indochina. This situation left the Japanese-influenced nationalists without any political patronage and began to pressure Viet Minh to secure a peace deal with French
In March 6, 1946, Ho Chi Minh as the President of Democratic Republic, sign an agreement with the French that recognized Vietnam as an autonomous state within French Union. Prince Vĩnh San will reinstated as the King of Vietnam with the reign name Duy Dân and the coalition government will formed between the left-wing nationalist and the communist. However, France broke its promise. The Union of Indochina formed as the part of French Union in November 4, 1946 with Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia became its constituent states.