New Cambodian King Accepts Job, Fears Lack of Experience


2004-10-15
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PHNOM PENH — ; Cambodia's new king-elect, Prince Norodom Sihamoni, has accepted the job of monarch offered by the country's throne council, but he has voiced doubts about his lack of experience for the role.

"I will not interfere in the affairs of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches and so forth."

In a message carried on the Web site of his father, King Norodom Sihanouk, on Oct. 15, Sihamoni said he was "extremely excited to have learned on 14 October 2004 of the unanimous decision made by the Royal Council of the Throne, in the name of all the Buddhist monks, the nation, and the citizens."

The king in Cambodia is not a hereditary title, but all candidates must have a royal bloodline.

Sihamoni, 51, a former ballet dancer, was selected after widely tipped candidate Prince Norodom Ranariddh declined the job, saying he would rather head his royalist political party FUNCINPEC.

Role model

Sihamoni said he would strive to model himself on his father by abiding 100 percent by Cambodia's Constitution, which states, "The King shall reign but shall not rule."

"I will not interfere in the affairs of the legislative, executive, and judicial branches and so forth," Sihamoni's statement said, adding that he would remain politically neutral and focus on religious and humanitarian issues.

Sihamoni said he would strive to "preserve national unity and solidarity." He asked the Cambodian people to have "mutual understanding and respect, to desist from using violence, and to avoid committing any acts that are against the law and Constitution."

"The King shall reign but shall not rule."

Cambodia is currently preparing to hold a coronation ceremony for Sihamoni on Oct. 29, China's official Xinhua news agency reported.

Orderly succession

Eighty-one-year-old King Norodom Sihanouk announced his abdication by letter from Beijing last week, citing worsening health, and calling on the country's leaders to select a new monarch from his family.

U.S. officials have said that the succession process was conducted "in an orderly fashion."

"We do note that Prince Sihamoni has been designated by Cambodia's Throne Council to be Cambodia's next king, following the abdication of King Sihanouk on Oct. 7," the State Department said in a statement.

France, Cambodia's onetime colonial ruler, added its support. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Cecile Pozzo di Borgo urged Sihamoni "to pursue the building of a state of law, to reinforce national unity and the economic and social development of the country."

And China, which has hosted Sihanouk on lengthy stays away from the hurly-burly of Cambodian politics for decades, said it would continue neighborly and friendly cooperative relations with Phnom Penh.

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