King Appeals to Top Monk to Let Him Abdicate

For the second time in a week, King Norodom Sihanouk raised the issue of his proposed abdication Monday, saying he will give up the throne once he is granted permission to do so from one of the country’s top religious leaders.

King Sihanouk, who lives in self-imposed exile in North Ko­rea, said he will step down when he returns to Cambodia with the consent of Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong, leader of the Ma­hanikaya Buddhist sect.

He repeated his earlier plans to retire to his Siem Reap residence, where he said he will retreat fully from public life.

After his abdication, he wrote in a statement Monday, he will no longer respond to any of his letters or e-mails and he will not re­ceive any diplomatic or other official visits. “And I hope that people (in­cluding members of the Khmer Royal Family) abstain from making courtesy visits or other visits to me,” he added.

King Sihanouk has threatened to abdicate on several occasions in recent years, but has been particularly detailed about his plans to step down over the past month, as he has criticized what he said was a worsening political crisis.

Reached by telephone Mon­day, Tep Vong, however, said the King agreed in July not to abdicate, at the request of the top monk. “Last month, I wrote a letter to King Sihanouk to continue to keep the throne for the nation,” Tep Vong said. “The King accepted my letter so the issue is al­ready finished.”

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