King Norodom Sihanouk on Saturday proposed that his wife, Queen Norodom Monineath, represent the monarchy after his death.
“The Queen has served the nation and the people honestly, actively and effectively. This is the only way that the monarchy regime can be sustained,” King Sihanouk wrote in an open letter to the public.
He said Queen Monineath would remain the symbol of the monarchy until the Throne Council was able to choose his successor.
The King, who turned 81 on Oct 31, has expressed his concern on several occasions over the lack of legislation required to decide the next monarch after his death. A law has not been established to determine the operations and functions of the Throne Council, which will choose the royal successor.
Saying he anticipated a dispute within the council, the King repeated an earlier call to select the next monarch by a simple majority vote in the council. If the council adopted such a vote, only five of the nine current members would need to agree on the next monarch.
“To do that, we can succeed,” the King said.
Under the Constitution, the Queen does not have the right to assume the role of head of state. However, King Sihanouk said that when he declined the throne during his Sangkum Reastr Niyum regime, his mother, Queen Kossomak Nearireath, took over the monarchy after the death of his father, Norodom Suramit.
Queen Nearireath became the “mother of the nation and symbol of the monarchy regime but did not rule with power,” King Sihanouk said.
Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Sunday that the government would agree to allow Queen Monineath to represent the monarchy.
“So far the Queen has helped the King a lot since the resistance for [Cambodia’s] independence,” from France, he said. The King’s suggestion is “an excellent idea,” he added.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said Friday that it was time to start thinking about the workings of the Throne Council and that he supported a simple majority vote to select the new King.
“To avoid the difficulty of selecting the successor, we have to comply with the King’s idea,” Hun Sen told reporters. He added that the Throne Council will have only one week to choose the next monarch after the King’s death, as stipulated in the Constitution.
Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou on Sunday declined to comment.
In his letter Saturday, King Sihanouk also blamed Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party’s Alliance of Democrats for being responsible for the post-election political deadlock. He added that he is increasingly concerned about the lack of compromise between the three main parties.
“Negotiations to form the new government and National Assembly haven’t got any results because Funcinpec and the Sam Rainsy Party have imposed a lot of conditions on the Cambodian People’s Party,” he said.
He added: “This leads the people to be ashamed, dishonored and miserable.”
In a separate letter Sunday, King Sihanouk said that if the Assembly were to amend the Constitution, it could adopt a traditional mode of succession, under which the heir to the throne would automatically be the King’s first-born son.
In such a case, he said, his son Prince Norodom Yuvaneath would head the monarchy after his death. Prince Yuvaneath—whose mother is Princess Sisowath Pongsamoni, the daughter of King Sisowath Monivong—was born in 1943.
(Additional reporting by Wency Leung)