King Denies Proposing Change to Constitution

King Norodom Sihanouk has denied he suggested changing Cambodia’s Constitution to allow his wife, Queen Norodom Moni­neath, to become his successor.

“At no moment have I formulated (verbally or in writing) any such ‘proposition’ or suggestion or demand in favor of the Queen my wife,” the King wrote in a letter dated July 15 and recently published in the King’s monthly bulletin. He added: “I wrote, in a very clear statement, that the ‘proposition’ in question did not come from me but rather from certain Khmer personalities.”

He listed those personalities as Prime Minister Hun Sen, opposition leader Sam Rainsy and democratic activist Lao Mong Hay.

The King said neither he nor the Queen supported modifying the Constitution to satisfy such wishes. “The Queen my wife and I are absolutely in favor of election by the [The Royal Council of the Throne] of a king who is a de­scendent of the Ang Duong, Preah Norodom, or Sisowath line of royalty,” he wrote.

The Constitution allows only a male to sit on the throne. It states that the Throne Council select the next king within seven days of the mon­arch’s death.

In a separate statement, dated July 17, the King said he would not preoccupy himself with the future of his family, since he believed he could not control its destiny in his next life.

“If I am reborn on this Cambo­dian soil, I would not be who I was in my previous life,” he wrote. “As a re­sult, I will risk not in­volving my­self much in the fate of the family of King Sihanouk.”

Although he did not offer any predictions or preferences as to whom his successor might be, the King said he found other people’s speculations very amusing.

He recently said supporters of his daughter, Princess Bopha Devi, had spoken “with a remarkable hope and enthusiasm” about the possibility that one of her two sons, Sisowath Chivannariddh and Sisowath Veakchiravuddh, would be chosen by the Throne Council to be the next monarch.

Their reasons for such speculations, the King said, were that the two sons are thought to be “clean,” or not yet corrupted, and be­cause their blood was “more royal,” since both parents are the de­scend­ants of kings. Their father, Siso­wath Chivan Moni­rak, is the son of King Sisowath Mon­­ivong. How­ever, the King said, the final decision will be made by Prime Minister Hun Sen, who he referred to as “The Maker of the King.”

The Throne Council is heavily influenced by Hun Sen.


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