Passing the Scepter?

Over the past 60 years, Cambodia's King Norodom Sihanouk has worn many crowns: a bon vivant prince, an absolute ruler, an exile, a prisoner of the Khmer Rouge and, since 1993, a constitutional monarch. Now, Sihanouk is seeking a new role: retiree. The 81-year-old, affectionately known as "Samdech Euv" (Papa King), dismayed many last week when he released a statement announcing his abdication. "I am too old now," the King wrote from Beijing, where he is receiving treatment for diabetes, exhorting his people "to please allow me to retire."

If Sihanouk does step down, it may be because...

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