Hun Sen Ignores King’s Threat to Abdicate

In a stinging response to King No­rodom Sihanouk’s threats to ab­dicate, Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said he was too busy pondering the country’s poor farmers to give the issue much thought.

“We are politicians, not children…. We should not discuss the King’s message,” the prime minister told reporters at the Council of Ministers.

Hun Sen said he is  pre­oc­cupied with helping farmers who have fallen victim to floods and improving cultivation methods, instead of focusing on matters involving the King.

But, he said that King Siha­nouk should remain Cambodia’s reigning monarch for life, as stated in the Constitution.

“The Constitution doesn’t state anything about the King’s abdication,” Hun Sen said. “The Con­sti­tution states that the King must stay on the throne until he dies, so there is no gap to allow the King to abdicate in the middle, before or after his term,” he ad­ded.

King Sihanouk has threatened to give up the throne on several oc­casions in recent years. But over the past month, he has raised the issue with greater frequency and has repeatedly ex­pressed his displeasure over the country’s political situation since the formation of the new government.

On Monday, King Sihanouk re­peated that he will abdicate upon the approval of Supreme Pat­ri­arch Tep Vong, the leader of the Ma­­hanikaya Buddhist sect.

The King’s threat prompted Sam Rain­sy Party parliamentarians to issue a statement Tuesday, re­questing that the Constitution be amended to allow the King to step down.

“It is a basic human right that a per­son is free to make his/her own decision affecting his/her life. His Majesty is entitled to the same right,” the statement said.

However, it added, the government should take measures “to avert a national crisis surrounding the possible abdication.”

The opposition also suggested that the three main political parties make a joint request to meet with King Sihanouk in Bei­jing  and urge him not to give up the throne.

Hun Sen said Wednesday that he would support the Sam Rainsy Party’s suggestion to amend the Constitution, but warned, “This si­tuation would shock people and create chaos.”

King Sihanouk also responded to the Sam Rainsy Party Wednes­day, saying that his decision was firm.

“If the nation allows me to abdicate as is my request, I will go back to live with [my] compatriots until  I die,” he said.

He added that he hoped the Throne Council, which is responsible for selecting an heir, will soon “select a male King who is honest, gentle and will try to help the country.”

An heir has not been chosen because the Throne Council has not determined the selection procedure.

An official from the Cabinet of the Royal Palace, who confirmed King Sihanouk’s arrival in Beijing Tues­day said he did not know when the King would return to Cambodia.

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