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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Sihamoni leaves Paris job for home

Sihamoni leaves Paris job for home

Sihanoni.jpg
Sihanoni.jpg

Prince Sihamoni.

PRINCE Norodom Sihamoni has left his post as a Paris-based cultural ambassador and

accepted an invitation from his father to help with a dance production in Phnom Penh,

increasing speculation that he will succeed him as king.

Sihamoni, 51, has spent most of the past 37 years outside Cambodia. He has been Cambodia's

ambassador to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

(UNESCO) for the past 11 years.

King Sihanouk, 81, has said he will return to Cambodia on September 27 and has asked

Sihamoni, who studied dance in Prague and once directed a ballet company, to assist

with the choreography of performances set to the King's own compositions.

The King has also asked archivists and researchers to meet him in Beijing before

the end of the month to help organize his personal letters and other documents. It

is believed his papers are destined for the Ecole Francaise d' Extreme Orient, and

an Australian university.

Sihamoni's half-brother, Prince Norodom Ranariddh, returned from Beijing after he

and Prime Minister Hun Sen met with Sihanouk, saying the King was satisfied at being

presented with a law on the Throne Council, which he hoped would be established as

soon as possible with a simple majority of the nine members empowered to elect the

next King.

"I and Samdech Hun Sen agreed on the request of the King, and the two main political

parties CPP [Cambodian People's Party] and Funcinpec are ready to prepare the draft

law for the National Assembly," said Ranariddh, Funcinpec president.

Ranariddh has reaffirmed that he is not interested in the throne and has given Sihamoni

his full endorsement, warning that failure to elect a successor would be dangerous

for the nation.

"I would like to support the candidacy of Samdech Krom Khun Norodom Sihamoni,"

said Ranariddh on August 31. "I have no aim for the throne and will not resign

from my political affairs."

Overseeing the appointment of his successor is considered the last great act for

Sihanouk, who is said to be serious about abdicating after more than six decades

of ruling the country as king or prime minister.

"The key question [for the king] is, 'How do I guarantee the succession' and

the answer is, 'By stepping down'," said a political observer.

On August 31 the King gave Sihamoni the title Samdech Preah Baromneath; Prince Norodom

Yuvaneath, 61, became Samdech Preah Barom Rama; Prince Norodom Chakrapong, 59, Samdech

Preah Mohessara; and Princess Norodom Arun Rasmei, 49, Samdech Reachbotrei Preah

A'noch.

In other political news, Hun Sen cancelled his planned visit to meet United Nations

secretary general Kofi Annan in New York later this month, and will send Foreign

Minister Hor Namhong instead.

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