Former King Pledges to Stay Out of Politics, Supports Hun Sen

In an apparent attempt to end or pre-empt talk that he might rejoin the political fray, retired King Norodom Sihanouk issued a statement pledging his undying support for Hun Sen as the country’s premier.

Posted on his website Friday from Beijing, where the 88-year-old royal has undergone repeated treatment for cancer, the statement came a day before his son Prince Norodom Ranariddh made his own return to politics after a two-year hiatus.

“For many years, I said and wrote (several times) that HE Samdech Decho Hun Sen, in his highest capacity as head of the RGC (Royal Government of Cambodia), was supported 100 percent by me, and until the end of my life,” the statement says.

At the end, the former King also promises to stay out of politics.

“I have retired, and I will no longer do any more politics,” he wrote.

Norodom Sihanouk led the government from independence in 1953 to his ouster in 1970. Following the fall of the Khmer Rouge, he founded Funcinpec in 1981, which won national elections under Prince Ranariddh’s leadership in 1993.

Oum Daravuth, a member of the Royal Cabinet, declined to comment on the statement yesterday, insisting that “only the King can answer.”

Noranariddh Anandiyat, cabinet chief for Prince Ranariddh, also declined to comment yesterday, while Prince Ranariddh could not be reached.

However, after resuming the helm on Saturday of the Norodom Ranariddh Party on Saturday, which he founded in 2006, the prince briefly referred to the statement in calling for an alliance with the ruling CPP.

“I have to say like this because yesterday the King Father signed a letter himself. The Father wrote, ‘I support 100 percent Prime Minister Hun Sen as the premier.’ Now if your Father says 100 percent, we just have to cooperate to work together.”

Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said yesterday that he would not comment on statements from the retired King as a matter of policy. He confirmed, however, that the CPP had no interest in an alliance with the prince.

“We have no any plan to form an alliance with Ranariddh’s party despite our good relationship,” he said by e-mail.

(Additional reporting by Zsombor Peter)

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