Retired King Norodom Sihanouk will not consider returning to Cambodia, as political upheaval would only drive him abroad once again, he wrote in a letter dated Saturday and addressed to Prime Minister Hun Sen.
In response to a Friday letter from Hun Sen urging him to return, the retired King wrote that he was kept abroad because of reports in the local media and letters from opposition leader Sam Rainsy.
“At present, if I return to my homeland, there could be problems, and I will have to leave my motherland again,” the retired King wrote.
The exchange appeared to follow increasingly warm correspondence between the retired King and the prime minister, who had appeared to be at odds after Hun Sen ordered television stations to play anti-Sihanouk songs from the 1970s Lon Nol era last year, and threatened to dissolve the monarchy.
Hun Sen wrote in a letter posted on the retired King’s Web site that he was surprised and pleased to receive letters of support from retired King Sihanouk on Jan 10 and Feb 14.
“Please consider returning home to give ‘cool shade’ to all of us,” Hun Sen wrote, adding that Cambodians “wish Your Majesty at home before the [Khmer] New Year,” in April.
But Norodom Sihanouk said local French and English language press had painted him as indecisive, reporting both that he had plans to return to Cambodia and that he “would rather die abroad.”
The retired King also cited two letters from Sam Rainsy as reasons to remain out of the country. In one letter, he said, Sam Rainsy warned him prior to his abdication in 2004 that “someone has planned a protest against Sihanouk.”.
Sam Rainsy said he was extremely surprised by the retired King’s letter.
Sam Rainsy added that he did not wish to dispute the retired King, advise him or answer him in the press. But asked if he would welcome Norodom Sihanouk back, he answered, “without hesitation.”