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New Cambodia Monarch Takes Over From Father

October 30, 2004|From Associated Press

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — Standing before golden statues of his ancestors and blessed by monks whose chants filled a hall in the Royal Palace, former ballet dancer Norodom Sihamoni took the throne Friday, succeeding his father.

Sihamoni, who has no political experience and is little known in his home country, was enthroned in an elaborate ceremony that included the blowing of conch shells and traditional music played with drums and gongs.

Shaded by a large parasol, Sihamoni was brought to the throne room on a litter led by palace guards and musicians. Bowing before the throne, he repeated three times his oath to serve the country and its people.

"I am extremely touched to have the opportunity to devote my physical and mental strength and intelligence to serve the nation and the people, and to continue the tradition and glorious achievements of my father," Sihamoni, 51, later told a few hundred dignitaries in the throne room.

They included Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prince Norodom Ranariddh, president of the National Assembly and Sihamoni's half-brother.

Sihamoni's ailing father, Norodom Sihanouk, who was installed as king by Cambodia's colonial ruler, France, in 1941, was not present for the swearing-in, though he attended other ceremonies leading up to it.

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