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Funcinpec to Hold Memorial for 'Souls' of the Slain

Government coalition partner Funcinpec will hold a ceremony for members who have been killed while "serving their country," an official said Friday.

The ceremony, to be held during Cambodia's Pchum Ben holiday, will honor at least 400 "souls" at the Chambak Meas pagoda on the outskirts of Phnom Penh.

Pchum Ben is an annual event where Cambodians gather to pay their respects to the dead by building stupas of sand and earth and giving offerings to spirits.

Funcinpec lost many of its members during the 1997 coup d'etat, when Prime Minister Hun Sen and the Cambodian People's Party seized power after two days of fighting. Tanks moved through Phnom Penh, which saw machine gun fire and the explosions of rockets and mortars. Funcinpec leaders were rounded up and executed during the fighting.

The party did not commemorate the battles on the July 5 anniversary, choosing instead Pchum Ben, Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay said Friday.

"We believe in Buddhism," he said. "Those who have died, their souls will come and see their relatives during Pchum Ben, so we mark that day for their memorial."