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Cambodia's ex-king Norodom Sihanouk dies in Beijing

Cambodias ex-king Norodom Sihanouk dies in Beijing

Beijing: Cambodia's former king Norodom Sihanouk died of natural causes at the age of 90 here, Chinese state media reported today.

"Our former King died at 2:00 a.M. Early Monday in Beijing due to natural cause. This is a great loss for Cambodia. We feel very sad. The former king was a great king that we all respect and love him," Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Nhik Bun Chhay was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency.

He said that King Norodom Sihamoni will fly to Beijing today morning to receive his father Norodom Sihanouk's body to Cambodia for a traditional funeral.

Sihanouk was born on Oct 31, 1922. He suffered from various forms of cancer, diabetes and hypertension and had been treated by Chinese doctors in Beijing for years.

Sihanouk died at 1:20 a.M. Early today at the age of 90 due to natural causes in the Beijing Hospital, an official statement of the Cambodian government has said.

"The government of Cambodia will bring his royal body from China to Phnom Penh in order to hold a traditional funeral at the Royal Palace," it said.

Born on Oct 31, 1922, Norodom Sihanouk reigned Cambodia from 1941 to 1955 and again from 1993 until his voluntary abdication on Oct 7, 2004 in favour of his son, the current King Norodom Sihamoni.

Sihanouk is the son of King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Sisowath Kossamak. During his life time, he had held many positions since 1941, including two terms as the king, two as sovereign prince, one as president, two as prime minister, and one as Cambodia's non-titled head of state.

He was named the Father of Independence, Territorial Integrity and Khmer Unification. Sihanouk's actual period of effective rule over Cambodia was from Nov 9, 1953, when France granted independence to Cambodia, until March 18, 1970, when Lon Nol and the National Assembly deposed him.

After the country fully gained independence from France on March 2, 1955, Sihanouk abdicated in favour of his father, established the Sangkum Reasniyum regime and took the post of prime minister a few months later, after having obtained an overwhelming victory in the parliamentary elections in September 1955.

His second coronation was made on Sept 24, 1993; he abdicated the throne second time on Oct 7, 2004 due to ill health.

On March 18, 1970, while Sihanouk was out of the country, the then Prime Minister Lon Nol convened the National Assembly, which voted to depose Sihanouk as head of state. After he was deposed, Sihanouk fled to Beijing.

During Lon Nol's regime (Khmer Republic), Sihanouk mostly lived in exile in the North Korea.

Prince Sihanouk returned to Cambodia on Nov 14, 1991 after thirteen years in exile. In 1993, Sihanouk once again became King of Cambodia. However, he suffered from ill health and travelled repeatedly to Beijing for medical treatment.


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