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King 'concerned'

KING Norodom Sihanouk says he cannot intervene in the political crisis but, in the

interests of not displeasing certain "important compatriots", he will no

longer speak of abdication.

"I am very deeply concerned with the political situation, violence, disputes

and threats in our country," the King wrote in an Apr 25 statement from Beijing.

"I do not have any right to intervene," he went on, adding that he could

only pray to "God, Buddha, Angels, and the former Kings and Queens to restore

our nation".

In a statement issued three days later, the King complained of journalists' suggestions

that he wanted Prince Luong Norodom Yuvaneath - one of his sons who has long been

abroad - to succeed him. The King reiterated that he had no right to choose his successor

on the Throne.

The King, who has recently voiced his desire to abdicate, ended his statement by

saying that he would no longer speak of his abdication.

"Some important compatriots maintain that I do not have the right to abdicate

and others are afraid of my abdication. I do not want to displease those important

compatriots."

Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, in an Apr 19 press conference, said he had spoken

to Queen Monineath before she left Phnom Penh to join the King in Beijing.

At an Apr 4 audience with Her Majesty, Hun Sen said, he told the Queen "of the

possibilities that may happen with the abdication of the King, and the possibilities

of a discussion about [forming] a republic."

Hun Sen disputed that he was an anti-Monarchist, but added: "Some people say

the King provides shade and some people now want to cut down this tree. [If] the

tree falls himself, I will just go there to turn it into a bed or firewood."

The Prime Minister reiterated his belief that, if the King abdicated during the 1998

election campaign, the ballot should be suspended.

Meanwhile, in his first public comments on the Ung Phan-Toan Chay breakaway from

Funcinpec, the King has voiced the opinion that the party led by his son Prince Ranariddh

is dying.

In annotations to newspaper articles reprinted in his monthly bulletin, the King

wrote that the party split was the "beginning of the end" for Funcinpec

and Ranariddh.

"In reality, Funcinpec is already in decline - one very serious, and always

increasing numbers of 'defectors' are becoming pro-Samdech Hun Sen. Many are abandoning

Samdech N. Ranariddh."

The King made no direct comment on Toan Chay, but alongside an article about Ung

Phan, His Majesty wrote: "Why did Funcinpec accept and honor a traitor capable

of committing treason?"

Next to an article which quoted Ranariddh as saying that the government would not

collapse but would work more slowly, the King wrote: "His Royal Highness is

wrong."

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