Funeral for Sihanouk to be held this evening in Phnom penh

national February 04, 2013 00:00

By The Nation

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Leaders from around the world will today bid farewell to Cambodia's great King Norodom Sihanouk who steered his country through turbulence after its independence from France.

Today, Sihanouk's widow Norodom Monineath Sihanouk and his son King Norodom Sihamoni are scheduled to light his funeral pyre in the early evening. A firework display and gun salute are also due to take place.

Many foreign leaders are expected to attend the royal funeral including Japan’s Prince Akishino, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Sihanouk, who died of a heart attack in October in Beijing at the age of 89, was revered by Cambodians, notably the elder generation, as a great king for his struggle to build the nation during hard times since accession to the throne in 1941.

Exiled from political conflict at home twice in the early and late 1970s, Sihanouk was well known around the globe for his colourful political and personal life.

Returning to Cambodia from exile in the early 1990s after the end of civil war, Sihanouk regained his throne in 1993 after the United Nations-sponsored election. He abdicated in 2004 for health reasons and was succeeded by his son Sihamoni, who was seen as unlikely to try to fill his father’s shoes or follow his steps.

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