Install

Get the latest updates as we post them — right on your browser

. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Cambodia's Hun Sen Seeks Blessing of His King

BEIJING -- The key players in Cambodia's political drama Monday sought support for their causes, with leader Hun Sen seeking the blessing of King Norodom Sihanouk and deposed Prince Norodom Ranariddh vowing to restore democracy.


Powerful Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, who seized power in July by ousting Sihanouk's son, co-Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh, flew to Beijing on Monday to meet the king, who has so far withheld his political blessing to Hun Sen's power grab.


Hun Sen arrived in Beijing, accompanied by new First Prime Minister Ung Huot, shortly after the king said he was willing to abdicate the throne.


"I am ready to abdicate as soon as it will be possible for me to do so," the king wrote in a letter to his biographer.


Ranariddh said he took his father's offer of abdication as an expression of disapproval of Hun Sen.


"We are stepping into an era of great instability if not a civil war, so I understand very well the feeling and stance of my father, his majesty the king, when he is talking about the possibility of abdicating," he told reporters in Bangkok.


Cambodian and Thai sources said Hun Sen's armies were poised to swoop down on the last town held by troops loyal to Ranariddh, who was in Thailand trying to garner support from foreign governments for a return to democracy in his homeland.


Ranariddh denied his forces were about to lose the border town of O'Smach near the Thai border in northwestern Cambodia, where mortar and rocket fire were heard Monday, and said he and his party FUNCINPEC were far from defeated.


"The resistance will continue. The political and military resistance will continue. But I am very sorry to say that I fear that governments and states are not very concerned about Cambodia," Ranariddh said at a news conference.


Analysts said Hun Sen would try to seek Sihanouk's stamp of approval for his government as a final step to legitimizing his takeover. Sihanouk has hinted his strong disapproval of Hun Sen's actions.


Sihanouk, who has been in Beijing for medical treatment since February, said he would meet Hun Sen and Ung Huot on Tuesday at his residence.


Previously, the king has blasted the new first prime minister as a "puppet."


Hun Sen has also sought approval of foreign governments and is eager for Phnom Penh to win entry into the Association of South East Asian Nations, which has held up Cambodia's membership in the body because of the political turmoil.


ASEAN on Monday delayed a decision on when to let Cambodia join the body but said its admission was just a formality. "Cambodia is part of Southeast Asia. The timing for actual membership is just a formality,"" said Philippines foreign minister Domingo Siazon told a news conference after a meeting of foreign ministers of the nine-member grouping in Singapore.