Opposition Lawmaker Offers Succession Plan

The Constitution should be amended to allow King Norodom Sihanouk to choose his own successor, thereby scrapping the idea of forming a Throne Council, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian Son Chhay said Wednesday.

Under the proposal, the King would be given au­thority to select his heir to the throne, as well as the responsibility to delegate a member of the royal family to be the acting head of state in the event of the King’s absence or illness. The Senate President currently fills that role.

Son Chhay said he sent the proposal to the King on Tuesday and is awaiting a reply.

“I proposed these ideas to the King be­cause we think they are very im­portant to strengthen and ensure the stability of state institutions, such as the Royal Palace,” he said.

Under the Constitution, the King’s successor is to be chosen by a Throne Council, consisting of nine members, including political and spiritual leaders. But, since the Constitution’s inception in 1993, the council has yet to be formed.

Son Chhay, who proposed a draft law on the Throne Council in 1999 that failed, suggests in his new proposal that a “Council of the King” should be established instead. The “Council of the King” would select the next King by a two-thirds majority vote only if the reigning King has not named his successor.

The proposal says the council would also assist the King with his daily work. Its 15 members would have to be free of all political affiliation, as well as all government and legislative institutions, it said.

Son Chhay also suggested the King should be given control over the armed forces to ensure they stay politically neutral.

Officials from the Sam Rainsy Party and Funcinpec, offered their support for the proposal. But Om Yentieng, adviser to Prime Minister Hun Sen said it is not the right time to make such a proposal, as the formation of the new government and National Assembly is more pressing issue.

“Son Chhay is playing the wrong music,” said Om Yentieng. “There is no problem [with choosing the next King]. It’s not urgent.”

 

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