King Norodom Sihanouk has refused to intervene in the dispute between his half-sister Princess Norodom Vacheara and Prime Minister Hun Sen, saying he “prefer[s] to abstain.”
On Wednesday, Princess Vacheara, a prominent Funcinpec legislator, defended herself in the battle of words that has lately erupted between herself and the premier in a letter to the King.
“I am a victim of recent events,” the princess wrote in her letter dated Monday. “I would apologize to Samdech Prime Minister if the words [people] told me were not true about what Samdech Prime Minister said.”
In his public statement Tuesday, King Sihanouk implied that the issue was too hot to handle. “Instead of personally writing a letter of ‘apology’ to [His Excellency] Hun Sen…my sister, [Her Royal Highness] Princess Norodom Vacheara, has agreed only to write a letter to King Norodom Sihanouk,” the King wrote.
“Princess Norodom Vacheara wishes that I should agree to submit her letter to the King to the attention of the Prime Minister,” the King continued.
“Considering the tone of this letter, which might not be well received by Samdech Hun Sen, I prefer to abstain from submitting it to Samdech Head of the Royal Government.”
Princess Vacheara and the premier are locked in a verbal clash, each accusing the other of slander. Last week, the princess suggested suing Hun Sen for allegedly belittling the throne by referring to her in derogatory terms.
In return, Hun Sen this week set legal proceedings in motion to sue Princess Vacheara for slander, but said he would reconsider the suit if the princess apologized to him personally.
If the premier pushes ahead with his lawsuit, he will first have to strip Princess Vacheara of her parliamentary immunity from prosecution, and her fellow party members have banded together to prevent that from occurring.
Of the 43 Funcinpec members of the National Assembly, 24 have signed a petition to oppose lifting the princess’s immunity. And on Wednesday, all 15 Sam Rainsy Party Assembly members joined the action, according to an opposition statement. Those 39 lawmakers could prevent an Assembly quorum and thus thwart the move against Princess Vacheara.