Cambodia releases list of foreign leaders to attend Sihanouk’s cremation


PHNOM PENH, Jan. 25 — Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Friday released a list of foreign leaders who will attend the royal cremation ceremony of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk on Feb. 4 in the Cambodian capital.

Among them are Jia Qinglin, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, French Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, Laos Prime Minister Thongsing Thammavong, Vice President of the Philippines Jejomar C. Binay, and Japan’s Prince Akishino, among others.

According to a ministry statement, Jia Qinglin, Jean-Marc Ayrault and Prince Akishino will be received in separate royal audience by Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen-Mother Norodom Monineath at the Royal Palace.

Sihanouk died of illness at the age of 90 in Beijing on Oct. 15, last year. Currently, his body is lying in state at the Royal Palace for the public to pay tribute.

The body will be moved from the Royal Palace to a custom-built crematorium at the Veal Preah Meru Square next to the Palace on Feb. 1 and kept for another three days at the site before it is cremated on Feb. 4.

Cambodian government spokesman and Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said last week that at least 1.5 million people are expected to attend the ceremony.

A security force of about 11,000 will be deployed in the capital to ensure security and public order during the ceremony, said Lt. Gen. Kirt Chantharith, spokesman for the National Police.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said it will be the kingdom’s largest funeral to express the deepest gratitude to the King Father for his royal crusade to gain independence from France in 1953 and lead national construction from 1954 to 1970.

Sihanouk suffered from various forms of cancer, diabetes and hypertension and had been treated by Chinese doctors in Beijing for years before his death.

He wrote in a royal letter in January 2012 that he requested his body to be cremated instead of being buried and his ashes to be put in an urn, preferably made of gold, and placed in a stupa at the Royal Palace.