Retired King Norodom Sihanouk will not return to Cambodia with King Norodom Sihamoni this weekend because of his poor health, the retired monarch wrote in a faxed message on Tuesday.
“The beating of my pulse is more and more weak and has become imperceptible,” Norodom Sihanouk wrote from Beijing, “and my heart, after close examination by my eminent physicians, has proved itself to be very weak.”
“I cannot undertake the slightest journey,” he added.
King Sihamoni will return to Phnom Penh on Nov 6, Royal Palace officials said, though his mother, Queen Norodom Monineath, will reportedly stay in China with her ailing husband.
The retired King, who celebrated his 83rd birthday on Monday, left the country for medical treatment on Aug 10. Norodom Sihanouk has numerous health problems, including diabetes, high blood pressure and cancer.
Prince Norodom Sirivudh, the co-Interior Minister and Norodom Sihanouk’s cousin, said on Saturday that King Sihamoni and both his parents would return this weekend.
But Oum Daravuth, a member of the Royal Palace cabinet, said that while King Sihamoni was scheduled to return on Sunday, there was never any indication his parents would return with him.
“His Majesty, the retired King Norodom Sihanouk, has never claimed that he would return to Phnom Penh with King Norodom Sihamoni,” Oum Daravuth said.
“His health is not good and his permanent doctor asked him not to make the long trip.”
He declined to comment on whether Norodom Sihanouk’s decision was politically motivated.
Prime Minister Hun Sen hinted at the possibility of dismantling the monarchy in a fiery speech two weeks ago in which he attacked those who had criticized his border policies. He also ordered Khmer-language TV stations to broadcast anti-Sihanouk songs and past border documents. The broadcasts were stopped this week.
Prince Norodom Sirivudh was reportedly in Bangkok on Tuesday but Kung Hun Thearith, Interior Ministry secretary of state, said the prince had told him an official at the Cambodian Embassy in Beijing had passed on the information that the retired Monarch and Queen would be returning with the King.
Funcinpec lawmaker Monh Saphann was disappointed to hear that Norodom Sihanouk would not be returning with the King.
“I am very sad that the retired King doesn’t return,” he said. “The retired King is like a cool shade and the people rely on him,” he said.
(Additional reporting by Lee Berthiaume)