Top Monk Asks King to Remain on Throne

One of the country’s top religious leaders returned Saturday from a three-day trip to Beijing where he said he asked King No­rodom Sihanouk not to abdicate the throne.

Tep Vong, the leader of the Mahanikaya Buddhist sect, told re­porters he had urged the King to continue his reign and ap­pealed to politicians and the me­dia not to provoke his abdication.

“The King’s health is not good. So politicians and international and local media, do not instigate the King and let the King stay in peace to cure his ills,” Tep Vong said at the Phnom Penh International Air­port, as broadcast by the state-run TVK station. He did not elaborate on his visit with the King and did not answer phone calls Sunday.

Over the past month, King Si­hanouk has repeatedly ex­pressed his desire to abdicate and has voiced his displeasure over the state of democracy in Cambo­dia, following the formation of the new government.

From his palace in Beijing, King Sihanouk on Saturday wrote that Tep Vong had told him that some people wanted him to step down before a UN-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal begins. The King wrote that those people should raise the idea with the government and the National As­sembly. He said he still intends to testify before the proposed tribunal.

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