Former King Sihanouk, modern Cambodia's dominant figure, to be cremated amid mass mourning

Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - Thousands of mourners are gathering in the capital for the cremation of former King Norodom Sihanouk, the much-revered figure who survived wars and the murderous Khmer Rouge to hold centre stage in Cambodia for more than half a century.

His body has been lying in state since being flown from Beijing, where after a tumultuous life of triumph and tragedy, he died Oct. 15 of a heart attack at the age of 89.

The elaborate cremation will be presided over by his son, King Norodom Sihamoni, a former ballet dancer who lacks the stature and power of his father.

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