Retired King Declines Hun Sen’s Invitation Home

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.”



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