PHNOM PENH - Hundreds of people gathered at Independence Monument in Phnom Penh on Friday to celebrate the 59th anniversary of Cambodia’s independence from France.
King Norodom Sihamoni, still in mourning at the death of his father, Norodom Sihanouk, did not attend the ceremony. Sihanouk is widely credited with bringing Cambodia through its independence without violence. He died in Beijing Oct. 15, and his body is now lying in state at the Royal Palace.
The death of the former king, widely revered in the country, cast a somber mood on the celebration.
The ceremony was presided over by National Assembly President Heng Samrin, at Independence Monument in the capital. Prime Minister Hun Sen did not attend the ceremony, which included the lighting of a “victory flame” at the base of the monument that will burn for the next three days.
Marn Dollar, a 22-year-old student of agriculture, said the ceremony was a day of sadness for him, due to the death of Sihanouk.
“I told my children to remember the king father and what he has done for the nation,” said Ket Phana, a 54-year-old civil servant from the Ministry of Rural Development, who joined the anniversary celebrations.