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Cambodia to cremate beloved former king Norodom Sihanouk

Published on Feb 4, 2013 6:06 AM
People take pictures with their mobile phones of the crematorium where a coffin bearing the remains of Cambodia's late King Norodom Sihanouk is placed near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh on Feb 3, 2013. Thousands of Cambodians have paid their last respects to their former king Norodom Sihanouk as his body lay in state ahead of his cremation on Feb 4. -- PHOTO : AFP 

PHNOM PENH (AFP) - Cambodia is due to hold an elaborate cremation ceremony on Monday for its revered former king Norodom Sihanouk, part of a week-long funeral for the colourful late royal.

Foreign dignitaries including French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Japan's Prince Akishino and several Southeast Asian leaders are due to attend the ceremony, which starts at 0900 GMT, along with relatives of the late royal.

"It's the last day for us all to pay homage to the great hero king and to send him to heaven," said Sihanouk's long-time personal assistant Prince Sisowath Thomico.

"It is the day for the whole nation to say goodbye to his majesty. He is the hero of Cambodia," Thomico told AFP, but added that only officials and guests would be allowed inside the actual cremation site in Phnom Penh.

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