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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ranariddh appointed King Sihamoni's new top adviser: Palace

Ranariddh appointed King Sihamoni's new top adviser: Palace

Newly-rehabilitated Prince Ranariddh will assume the post of top

adviser to King, but observers wonder what's behind the promotion

IN a characteristic reversal of fate, the mercurial Prince Norodom Ranariddh has been appointed King Norodom Sihamoni's top adviser, said Royal Palace Cabinet member Oum Daravuth.

The King  appointed his half-brother Ranariddh as Chief of High Advisers to the King, a post equivalent to prime minister, in a royal decree signed on November 1 that was delivered to the Prince on December 6, according to Oum Daravuth, who recently received a copy.

He told the Post Wednesday that he did not know when Ranariddh would start his post atop the body, whose other advisers include Prince Norodom Sirivudh and Princess Norodom Vichara.

Formerly holding the actual post of prime minister following the victory of the royalist Funcinpec party in the 1993 elections, Rannaridh's political career has spiralled downwards.

After a decade of dwindling returns in successive elections, Funcinpec dumped him as president, prompting Ranariddh to form a new self-titled party before being obliged to flee the Kingdom to dodge a prison sentence for embezzlement - lodged by his former party in connection with the sale of its Phnom Penh headquarters. The Prince is newly rehabilitated: returning to Cambodia, securing a pardon from the King and announcing his retirement from politics in September of this year.

A reluctant monarch?

Sources close to the cosmopolitan King Sihamoni say he has increasingly expressed frustration with the restrictions on his life as monarch.

One recent visitor to the Palace said the King leaned over in a private moment and told him, "Je suis prisonnier" (I am a prisoner).

Sihamoni succeeded the ailing King Father Norodom Sihanouk, who Wednesday  released another theatrical missive online from his palace in Beijing, asking supporters once again to leave him in peace.

"I continue receiving an astronomical number of cards ... they want to harass me, and to cause me mental and physical sickness and shorten my life."

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