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King washes his hands of politics

King washes his hands of politics

H

IS Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk has told the Post he wants to withdraw from

political life after his proposal to lead a government of reconciliation with

Khmer Rouge representatives was rejected by Co-Premier Hun Sen.

In a

handwritten fax His Majesty wrote: "I have already stated precisely to HE Hun

Sen and others that I would always respect the Constitution.

"I will no

longer intervene in the affairs of the Royal Government of Cambodia

(RGC)."

The King said he would instead be staying in Beijing to undergo

further treatment for cancer.

"There are no more traces of cancer in my

bone marrow, or moreover in my body.

"But my eminent Chinese doctors

want to prevent my cancer coming back.

"They are asking me to agree to

undergo at the hospital three additional cycles of chemotherapy. From July 7,

1994 I will again be hospitalized for three months. My return to Phnom Penh

might take place towards the middle of next year."

The peace process has

ground to a complete halt with the failure of talks in Phnom Penh in mid-June

between the government and the KR which had been instigated by the King.

The KR representatives in the capital were subsequently ejected by the

government and their compound closed.

When asked about the way forward

for the country, His Majesty replied: "Concerning national reconciliation

(between the Khmer Rouge and the RGC-National Assembly) it becomes hence forth

impossible and that for reasons which everyone knows and in spite of all my

efforts.

"Each must assume his responsibilties before the people, the

nation and history.

"HE Hun Sen and others want me to remain "powerless".

I will no longer intervene in their affairs."

In an interview with Nate

Thayer on June 11, His Majesty outlined a plan to assume political power and

accommodate the Khmer Rouge demands for a role in government as a way of ending

the country's intractable civil war.

But in an unprecedented step Hun Sen

wrote an open letter to the King [full text on Page 3], which pointed out that

such a move was unconstitutional.

The co-premier also flatly rejected

the idea of giving the KR government seats.

The King's proposal of

taking the political reins of power caused serious rifts to be revealed within

the coalition and within the Funcinpec party, with some supporting His Majesty's

move and others siding with Hun Sen.

It would not have been a new

scenario for the King.

Within a month of a nationwide referendum in

1955, the King abdicated the throne to take political power and he governed

until being deposed in a coup by Gen Lon Nol in 1970.

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