Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - King resolute on abdication



King resolute on abdication

King resolute on abdication

PRESSURE is mounting on the Cambodian government to allow King Norodom Sihanouk to

abdicate and to forge a throne council to choose a successor.

The Constitutional Council will meet soon to discuss an opposition party query over

whether Sihanouk, 81, now in Beijing, can step down from the throne and if so who

will decide on his replacement.

The move comes as a close confidant to the King said it is likely he will go through

with plans to abdicate, creating a race against time to avoid a constitutional crisis

in an already unsteady nation.

"While King Sihanouk has in the past announced his abdication and then subsequently

changed his mind, on this occasion, observers agree that the King is serious and

will finally abdicate as he did back in 1955," wrote Julio Jeldres, official

biographer of Sihanouk, in a commentary in the Asia Times Online on August 12.

"The King is said to be very distressed by the state of the country, with the

poorest getting poorer and the richest getting richer through corrupt deals and the

abuse of power," wrote Jeldres.

While his exact schedule remains unclear, Sihanouk recently declined an invitation

to preside over the Fourth Buddhist Summit in Myanmar in December, suggesting he

will not return to Cambodia for another six months.

"Indeed... the Queen and I have some serious health problems which confine us

for a long time close to our eminent physicians in the People's Republic of China,"

the King wrote in a letter posted on his website on August 7.

Since early June, the King has repeatedly raised the prospect of abdicating and retiring

with his wife, Queen Norodom Monineath, to a quieter life at their Siem Reap palace.

But Jeldres said the establishment of the throne council has yet to be passed by

the National Assembly and in reality "is still a myth".

The constitution says the nine-member throne council is to appoint a new king within

seven days of his death, but does not refer specifically to the succession process

in the event of his abdication.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said the King cannot abdicate because Article 7 of the

constitution makes him the head of state for life.

Hun Sen is expected to meet the King during a visit to Beijing later this month to

sign bilateral economic agreements with China and attend the third International

Conference of Asian Political Parties on September 3 to 6.

Earlier this month, Hun Sen upset the King by saying he was too busy paying attention

to the poor to worry about Sihanouk's threats to abdicate.

"From now on, I will stay in Beijing," wrote the King in response. "I

will stop speaking about my abdication."

The opposition Sam Rainsy Party has been more supportive, asking that the King be

allowed to choose his future as his basic human right.

On August 10, a group of 16 Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarians sent a letter to the

president of the Constitutional Council asking it to explain what will happen if

the King steps down.

A spokesman for the Constitutional Council, Prak Sok, told the Post on August 12

that a small group will consider the letter and submit it to a larger meeting.

Sok did not say who would be involved in the consultations or when they would happen.

"I don't know who will choose the next king," he said.

The Council of the Throne consists of the Prime Minister, the country's two top monks

and the president, first vice president and second vice president of the Senate and

National Assembly. It has never met.

In 1955, Sihanouk abdicated the throne in favor of his father, Norodom Suramarit,

in order to enter politics and set up the Sangkum Reastr Niyum party which dominated

politics for the next 15 years. ,

When his father died in 1960 and no new king was named, Sihanouk became Head of State

as well as Prime Minister.

Speculation over the King's future has been fueled by his own statements from North

Korea and China amid political controversy at home, where a government was formed

in mid-July, ending a 12-month stalemate.

MOST VIEWED

  • Seven positive for Covid-19, Hun Sen confirms local transmission

    Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that there has been local community transmission of Covid-19. However, he urged the people not to panic even though the Ministry of Health announced the discovery of seven new cases on Sunday. Among the victims are Chhem Savuth, the director-general

  • Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville expressway on schedule

    The construction of the more than $1.9 billion Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway has not been delayed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, with more than 26 per cent of the project completed and expected to finish in about two years, according to Ministry of Public Works and Transport secretary of

  • Over 110 garment factories close

    A government official said on November 22 that at least 110 garment factories had closed in the first nine months of the year and left more than 55,000 workers without jobs – but union leaders worry those numbers could be much higher. Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training undersecretary

  • Singapore group seeks $14M in damages from PPSP over ‘breach of contract’

    Singapore-based Asiatic Group (Holdings) Ltd is seeking a minimum of $14.4 million relief from Cambodia Securities Exchange (CSX)-listed Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone Plc (PPSP) for allegedly breaching a power plant joint venture (JV) agreement. Asiatic Group’s wholly-owned Colben System Pte Ltd and 95 per

  • PM vows to protect Hun family

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has vowed to continue his fight against opposition politicians who he said intend to smash the Hun family. Without naming the politicians but apparently referring to former leaders of the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), Hun Sen said there

  • PM confirms community transmission, calls for unity

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has called on the public to stay calm, unite and follow the Ministry of Health guidelines after the wife of a senior official tested positive for Covid-19 in the Kingdom’s first case of community transmission. The case has drawn criticism