MOSCOW: Prince Norodom Sihanouk left here by plane, presumably for Peking, today [March 18] shortly after Phnom Penh radio announced that he had been overthrown by a coup d’etat as Cambodian Head of State.

Prince Norodom flew out on a Soviet aircraft aften sending a telegram to Phnom Penh that Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin had warned him “that a war will be inevitable between Cambodia and Viet-Nam if the Cambodian extreme rightwing continues to give low blows to our allies”.

Under original plans Prince Norodom was to remain five days in China and leave Shanghai on March 24 for Phnom Penh. The Prince, dressed in a long coat and smiling as usual was seen off from Moscow airport with all the honours due a Head of State by Soviet Head of State Nikolai Podgorny and Premier Kosygin. The Prince before his departure said Peking had made a diplomatic move.

The sending of the telegram, addressed to Queen Sisowath Kossamak, was taken by observers to indicate that the situation is deteriorating in Cambodia where airports were closed this morning and all internal and external communications were cut. The Phnom Penh Radio, monitored in Saigon, said power was now in the hands of Prime Minister Gen Lon Nol and Deputy Premier Sirikk Matak. — Agency

Published in Dawn, March 19th, 2020