King Says He’ll Mediate Election Disputes

King Norodom Sihanouk re­turned to Phnom Penh on Mon­day after a four-month visit to Bei­jing for medical treatment and told reporters gathered at Phnom Penh International Airport that he would mediate any post-election disputes between political parties.

The King also urged election can­didates to temper their prom­ises to voters.

Although the Constitution limits the King’s political power, he said, “When the country has a problem, the [political parties] call me because I am the father of the nation to solve the problem, like in 1997 or 1998…. I am welcome to solve the problem with the [political parties].”

He added, however, that he would not interfere with the political process or with the “political rights” of any party, suggesting in­stead that the parties should first attempt to seek a compromise themselves because “we are a big family.”

The King also dismissed questions that he and Prime Minister Hun Sen were in conflict, saying briefly that he had no dispute with the prime minister.

In a public exchange earlier this year, Hun Sen called on the King to stop publishing comments by Ruom Ritt in the King’s monthly bulletin.

Ruom Ritt often sharply criticizes the prime minister, and is speculated to be the King writing under an assumed identity.

Any conflict between King Si­hanouk and Hun Sen appeared mended on Monday.

The King, who greeted several dozen diplomats, Funcinpec, Sam Rainsy Party and CPP officials one by one after disembarking from his plane, also warmly met the prime minister, who was waiting patiently at the end of the line of well-wishers.

Absent from the line of greeters was the King’s son, Fun­cinpec Pres­ident Prince Noro­dom Ra­nariddh, who was in Kam­pot prov­ince campaigning for the election, said Funcinpec security adviser Serey Kosal. The prince was scheduled to meet with the King later Monday night at the Royal Palace, Serey Kosal said.

The King, who left for Beijing in mid-March, received medical treatment for various illnesses. Without going into specifics, the King said Monday that his health is greatly improved.


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