Sam Rainsy, Party Members Meet the King

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy and several senior members of his party met with King Noro­dom Sihanouk on Monday in what one visitor interpreted as a show of support by the monarch.

“He appreciates us and said our thinking is very similar,” said Son Chhay, Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian for Siem Reap.

The three-hour meeting covered a wide range of issues including political, environmental and social problems targeted by the opposition.

“He is concerned about the forestry, the violence, the de­struction of our artifacts like what happened in Banteay Chhmar, Angkor Wat and so on, the fishery, all sorts of things,” Son Chhay said. “He thanked us for raising those concerns.”

It was the fourth official meeting between the King and Sam Rainsy Party members.

King Sihanouk, 76, returned to Cambodia 10 days ago after three months of medical treatment in Beijing. He met with Prime Min­ister Hun Sen a week ago.

Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the National Assembly president and the King’s son, remains out of the country. The prince’s Funcinpec, the party his father helped found, joined a second coalition government with Hun Sen’s CPP late last year.

The King holds no real power—he is constitutionally required to “reign but not rule”—but is widely revered as the father of the country and key to stability. He was also the driving force behind the negotiations in November that led to formation of the coalition government after months of post-election deadlock.

According to Son Chhay, King Sihanouk expressed frustration Monday about his inability to improve the condition of Cam­bodians.

“He feels tired of trying to advance Cambodia and having no ability to do so,” he said. “He just wished that our leaders would work together.”

(Addition­-al reporting by The Associated Press)



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