Abdication of Cambodia's king rejected
Troops close in on last royalist-held town
August 13, 1997
Web posted at: 9:29 a.m. EDT (0929 GMT)
PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (CNN) -- King Norodom Sihanouk said his offer to abdicate the throne has been rejected by strongman Hun Sen, as government troops inched their way toward the last town held by forces loyal to the king's son, deposed Co-Premier
Forces loyal to Hun Sen on Wednesday moved closer to O'Smach, with some mortar rounds landing for the first time inside the town on the Thai border, residents said.
Royalist forces have been in retreat since a bloody coup in Phnom Penh removed Ranariddh from power more than a month ago.
Sihanouk, the 74-year-old king, urged Cambodia's leaders to help end the violent upheaval in their country.
"Please try to the maximum of your powers to allow the nation
and the people to enjoy again peace and prosperity, to eradicate war, insecurity and violence," the king said after a meeting Tuesday with the country's top leaders -- including Hun Sen -- at his residence in Beijing.
The king has said he acknowledges Hun Sen's rule as a practical matter, but he has remained vague about
Although Sihanouk is in Beijing for medical treatment, in the past he has used his absences from Cambodia to send a message about his disapproval of events in his homeland.
If the king were to abdicate, it would have clear political
repercussions. Sihanouk is highly regarded by Cambodians, and his resignation would be seen as an act forced upon the king by Hun Sen.
China on Wednesday urged the new Cambodian leadership to respect the king and resolve Cambodia's political crisis in a peaceful manner.
Chinese Premier Li Peng met Hun Sen and Cambodian acting head of state Chea Sim at China's seaside resort of Beidaihe, the Xinhua news agency said. Hun Sen led a 45-member delegation that went to Beijing to explain the political changes since his takeover.
Included in the delegation was Foreign Minister Ung Huot, who the National Assembly picked last week to succeed Ranariddh. Sihanouk has described Ranariddh's removal from power as illegal and called Ung Huot a "puppet."
"King Sihanouk is loved and esteemed by the Cambodian
people and enjoys high prestige abroad, so respecting the role and influence of King Sihanouk will serve the interests of the Cambodian people," Li said.
"The Chinese side has always advocated that... the Kingdom
of Cambodia's constitution and its political framework should be protected and that national elections be held as scheduled," Li said.
Chinese leaders told Hun Sen that they want to
expand ties with his government, the news agency said. The stance conflicts with that of Cambodia's Southeast
Asian neighbors, which have refrained from embracing the strongman.
U.N. human rights investigators have documented at least 40
killings of Hun Sen's opponents since his July 5-6 coup. There also have been reports of widespread intimidation of Ranariddh supporters outside the capital.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Related sites:Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
- ASEAN - the official website of Association of the Association of South East Asian Nations
- Cambodian Information Center - includies Cambodian news and photos, academic papers on Cambodia, and homepage links
- Embassy of Cambodia - site of the Chancery of the Royal Embassy of Cambodia to the United States located in Washington, D.C.
- Cambodia - profile from CARE
- Beauty and Darkness: Cambodia in Modern History - documents, essays, oral histories, and photos relating to the recent history of Cambodia, with an emphasis on the Khmer Rouge period
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