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PHNOM PENH: Tens of thousands poured into Cambodia’s capital to witness the procession of the body of former king Norodom Sihanouk, a revered figure who ruled through the triumph of independence to the tragedy of its brutal civil war.
Mourners dressed in white lined the 10-km (6-mile) route to welcome the return of Sihanouk, the flamboyant former monarch who died at 89 of heart failure on Monday in Beijing, his residence since abdicating eight years ago.
The turnout was indicative of the unfaltering respect for a quixotic patriarch whose political machinations played a part in Cambodia’s slide from liberation from French colonialism to the horrors of the Khmer Rouge’s “killing fields” revolution.
“I feel very sorry, I want to see him one last time,” said Mon Met, 48, who waited at the Royal Palace for his body to arrive.
“I only remember him as the person that brought happiness to the country. Now I feel scared of what happens next.”
Thousands huddled since dawn under umbrellas to escape the sun, others flowed in on trucks, carrying pictures of the film-making former monarch, whose blend of popular speeches and authoritarian rule held Cambodia together in its 1950s-60s heyday.