Hun Sen Claims Neutrality in Local Elections

Prime Minister Hun Sen lashed out Thursday at criticism that he did not vote in Sunday’s commune council elections because he wanted to play the neutral role of the King.

“If someone elects me as King, I would not accept…. If I become King, how could I go play golf?” he asked in the broadcast of a speech at the opening of a stretch of National Road 6 from Roulos to Siem Reap town.

The prime minister said he wants to require the throne council—the body which will choose a successor to the King—to reach a two-thirds majority agreement when picking the new monarch. “To elect a king, [the council] needs a consensus,” he said.

The council currently has no legal guidelines for picking a successor. Prince Norodom Ran­a­riddh, seen by many as the logical heir to the throne, has said he does not want to be king but wants to concentrate on politics.

Though he suffers from a number of ailments, the King was declared healthy following a recent trip to China for medical checkups. Cambodians are reluctant to discuss who might replace him, saying there is no need while Sihanouk remains fit.

Hun Sen credited himself with convincing CPP leaders to bring back the monarchy in 1993, saying he is the chief defender of the King. “If someone violates the King, I will do something about it,” he said.

 

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