King Norodom Sihanouk declared Saturday that he will remain Cambodia’s head of state, withdrawing his threat to abdicate from the throne after an appeal from one of the country’s top Buddhist leaders.
In a letter responding to Supreme Patriarch Tep Vong, who urged him not to abdicate, King Sihanouk wrote, “I dare not oppose the Supreme Patriarch.”
“I will suspend my abdication,” he wrote in the letter, posted on his Web site. “I will wait until the Supreme Patriarch allows me to abdicate, [then] I will dare to abdicate.”
Earlier last week, the King, who is currently staying at his palace in Pyongyang, threatened to step down from the throne “in the near future.”
On Friday he announced he would delay his abdication, but that he would submit his abdication letter to the Throne Council after he returned to Cambodia within the next two or three months. He added that his abdication was “irrevocable.”
In a letter the same day, however, Tep Vong, the CPP-aligned leader of the Mahanikaya Buddhist sect, implored the King not to give up the throne.
“On behalf of all the monks, I would like the King to stay on the throne for the sake of the people and religion,” Tep Vong wrote.
King Sihanouk has threatened to abdicate several times throughout his reign.
The 81-year-old monarch’s latest offer to step down was due to his age and ailing health, the King said, and not prompted by disapproval over Funcinpec and the CPP’s controversial “package vote” measure, which requires a contested change to the Constitution, as observers speculated.
Some analysts, however, said the King may have felt slighted because his role as political mediator has diminished in recent months, after Funcinpec and the CPP declined his invitation for a meeting in Pyongyang in May.
The King may also be concerned over the absence of a chosen heir to the throne, as the roles and responsibilities of the Throne Council, which is charged with choosing the next king, has not yet been established, analysts said.