Romanian ex-king to make trip despite ban

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BUCHAREST - Romania's exiled monarch, king Michael, plans to defy the left-wing government and fly to Bucharest tomorrow. 'The king intends to be there. He has no answer from the Romanian government and he is continuing with his travel plans,' a spokeswoman for the royal family said.

President Ion Iliescu said he would not intervene to change the government decision to refuse the exiled king a visa. The ex-king, Mr Iliescu said, was 'a foreign citizen' who would need a visa and would have to give a good reason to get one.

In a letter to supporters, the exiled king said his trip was no threat to the government: 'I will arrive as a Romanian who does not intend to contest the present constitutional order.' But Mr Iliescu said the ex-king could no longer address the Romanian people as though he were talking down from a throne. 'In Romania there is only one sovereign, the Romanian people,' Mr Iliescu said.

The ex-king drew large crowds in 1992 on his only officially sanctioned visit to the former Communist country since he was expelled by the Soviet-installed government in 1947. A return seems certain to provoke a confrontation with the government.