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National Assembly reinstates Sihanouk

Cambodia's new National Assembly reinstated Prince Norodom Sihanouk as head of state Monday, some 23 years after he was ousted by a coup.

Sihanouk quickly confronted a secession movement led by an estranged son, urging the assembly to restrain rebellious leaders of the outgoing government who declared seven of Cambodia's 21 provinces autonomous to protest losing the assembly election to a party led by another Sihanouk son.

The 120-member assembly, meeting for the first time since U.N.-supervised voting last month, is to adopt a democratic constitution within three months, then form a government under a peace accord designed to end 13 years of civil war in Cambodia.

But it faces a formidable task. The secessionists control 40 percent of the country, while the Communist Khmer Rouge guerrillas _ who boycotted the election _ control an additional 20 percent.

The assembly approved a resolution declaring illegal the U.S.-backed 1970 military coup that deposed Sihanouk after three decades as head of state.