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Prince to Implore Cambodian King Not to Abdicate - 2004-10-09

Cambodia's Prince Norodom Ranariddh has flown to Beijing in a bid to persuade his father, King Norodom Sihanouk, to change his mind about leaving his throne.

The 81-year-old king stunned Cambodia Thursday when he announced he is stepping down because of poor health.

Before leaving Phnom Penh Saturday, Prince Ranariddh said Prime Minister Hun Sen, who is attending a summit of Asian and European leaders in Vietnam, urged him to persuade the king to return home.

Should King Sihanouk abdicate, his replacement would be chosen by a nine-member Royal Throne Council. A replacement of royal blood must be chosen within one week of abdication.

Prince Ranariddh has said he does not want the job and has proposed his half brother, Prince Norodom Sihamoni, become Cambodia's new monarch.

Prince Sihamoni is a ballet instructor and former ambassador to UNESCO, the United Nations' cultural body. Prince Ranariddh plans to meet with him while in Beijing.