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Sihanouk lashes out at journalists' 'war'

Sihanouk lashes out at journalists' 'war'

KING Father Norodom Sihanouk has lashed out at critics from his Beijing residence, accusing journalists of waging a "war" against him, apparently in reaction to a recent French documentary of the monarch.

"Some journalists (French and other Westerners) have just relaunched their war against me, Norodom Sihanouk, treating me as corrupt, dictatorial, greedy [and] bloodthirsty when I was in power in Cambodia," he said in a seven-page message released Monday.

The former King then reasserted the legacy of his 1953-70 rule, claiming he enjoyed widespread popular support.

"The Khmer people decided by themselves with sovereignty and liberty to give me and the Sangkum Reastr Niyum power over the state," he wrote.

"If I was corrupt, I would not have been loved like this."

The letter was released in seeming response to a documentary of the monarch screened on French television on the evening of February 23.

The Nine Lives of Norodom Sihanouk, directed by Gilles Cayatte, covers Sihanouk's life between 1941 and 2004, including interviews and rare archival footage of the monarch.

Sihanouk's official biographer Julio Jeldres has also slammed the film's "great arrogance" and "comprehensive awfulness", accusing director Cayatte of distorting Sihanouk's story.

"I believe that [the documentary] is a crude exercise to paint as black as possible a picture of Norodom Sihanouk," he said in a commentary to the film issued in March.

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