King Won’t Return Unless He Abdicates

Repeating his desire to abdicate, King Norodom Sihanouk said he will never return to Cam­bodia unless he can give up the throne.

The 81-year-old monarch, who is in self-imposed exile in North Korea, said he would step down “without any regrets,” expressing displeasure over the state of the nation.

“In this 21st century, I have a wish to die in [Cambodia], so un­less I can abdicate, I will [not] go back to the country,” he wrote, in a statement posted on his Web site Wednesday.

“I will abdicate without any re­grets because although I am King, I don’t have any power.”

His remarks follow a warning he made Tuesday of a worsening political crisis in the country, de­spite the long-awaited formation of a new government.

Cambodia’s Constitution and state of democracy had been “disfigured” by the National As­sem­bly’s ratification earlier this month of a controversial constitutional addition, the King said Tuesday.

The measure, which helped to bring an end to the nearly yearlong government dead­lock, was pushed through by Funcinpec and the CPP.

Appearing increasingly frustrated by the country’s leaders, King Sihanouk has raised the issue of abdication on several occasions in recent weeks, even going so far as to announce his intention to step down in September or Oc­tober and retreat to his palace in Siem Reap province.

He reconsidered on July 10, however, after an appeal from Su­preme Patriarch Tep Vong, lead­er of the Mahanikaya Bud­dhist sect, who urged him not to abdicate.

In his latest statement King Sihanouk denied he was trying to seek power.

“I never had any wish or idea to demand power from anybody,” he said.

Khieu Kanharith, CPP spokes­man and newly appointed Min­ister of Information, declined to com­ment on the King’s latest wish to give up the throne.

Funcinpec’s deputy Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay also declined to comment.

Opposition party Secretary-General Eng Chhay Eang, however, said the Sam Rainsy Party would support the King’s abdication.

“The King has very seriously considered everything before announcing his intention to abdicate,” he said.

Interpreting the King’s an­nouncement as a political threat against Funcinpec and the CPP, he added: “The abdication is also a message to warn the two political parties not to do anything arbitrarily.”

Meanwhile, Eng Chhay Eang said, the country would face a crisis if King Sihanouk were to step down. Currently, the Throne Council, responsible for appointing the heir to the throne, has no established protocol for choosing King Sihanouk’s successor.

“If there is no King in the fut­ure, there will be a crisis in the monarchy. The King represents national unity,” Eng Chhay Eang said.

King Sihanouk has been abroad since late January, dividing his time between Pyongyang and Beijing, where he has been receiving medical treatment for various ailments.


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