King Norodom Sihanouk on Friday said he asked Senate President Chea Sim to take his place in presiding over the opening National Assembly meeting next week, saying he would not be threatened into attending the ceremony.
Earlier this week, King Sihanouk said he had received a visit from Prime Minister Hun Sen, who told him “the RCAF, the national police and all levels of civil servants” wanted him to be present at the meeting. It was a statement that some members of the Constitutional Council called “menacing and threating.”
“I face threats from Khmer citizens, soldiers and police who are biased to the CPP,” King Sihanouk said in a statement Friday. “If I go to open the Assembly myself, it means that I succumb to someone. My whole life, I’ve never succumbed to anyone.”
King Sihanouk added that he would be willing to abdicate the throne immediately if the majority of the Assembly approved. He has threatened to step down on several occasions in the past.
CPP spokesman Khieu Kanharith said CPP President Chea Sim accepted the King’s request in a letter sent Friday.
“He will be acting as the representative of the King to open the Assembly,” Khieu Kanharith said, adding that Chea Sim would swear himself in at the ceremony.
On Monday, the opposition Sam Rainsy Party declined to attend the swearing-in ceremony, scheduled for Sept 27. Funcinpec officials agreed to join the meeting, but only if there were 120 participants.
Funcinpec’s acceptance letter, the King said, made it “complicated to understand what Funcinpec wants to do and get.”
Funcinpec Deputy Secretary-General Ok Socheat on Friday said his party’s newly elected parlimentarians would not swear into the Assembly as long as their Alliance of Democrats partners in the Sam Rainsy Party did not attend.
Constitutional Council member Say Bory on Thursday said King Sihanouk was not obliged to go to the first legislative session. He added that the Constitution does not stipulate a minimum number of participants required to open it. But he said the Assembly would have to consist of at least 87 members to continue regular functions.
Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh was scheduled to return to Phnom Penh from Paris on Friday night, Funcinpec officials said.
Prince Sirivudh visited the US with Sam Rainsy this month to rally support for the Alliance of Democrats and then went to France. Sam Rainsy is scheduled to return from Europe Saturday.