26 November 2012
Cambodia's beloved former monarch Norodom Sihanouk, who died aged 89
last month, will be cremated on February 4 following an elaborate
ceremony, Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday.
will be preceded by a procession on February 1 that will see Sihanouk's
coffin carried from the royal palace in Phnom Penh to a funeral pyre in a
nearby park, the premier said in a speech on national radio.
"It will be a big ceremony," Hun Sen said.
than a million mourners are expected to line the streets for the lavish
procession, which will be broadcast live on television, government
spokesman Khieu Kanharith told AFP.
"After the procession, the
body will stay at the (cremation) site for three days to give people a
chance to pay their respects," he said.
A tall cremation pyre is already under construction near the royal residence.
who abdicated in 2004 after steering Cambodia through six decades
marked by independence from France, civil war, the murderous Khmer Rouge
regime and finally peace, died of a heart attack in Beijing on October
The death of the popular royal, who is currently lying in
state at the palace, plunged his nation into deep mourning. Hundreds of
thousands filled the capital's boulevards when his body returned home
from China last month.
Out of respect for the late monarch, the
government has cancelled this week's Water Festival celebrations, an
annual event that usually draws millions of visitors to the capital to
enjoy dragon boat racing, fireworks and concerts.
appropriate when the royal body lies inside the royal palace for us to
laugh happily outside the palace," Hun Sen said.