Former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk Dies

Posted October 14th, 2012 at 8:25 pm (UTC-5)
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Former Cambodian king, Norodom Sihanouk, has died at the age of 89.

Cambodian government officials say the former leader died of natural causes early Monday , in Beijing, where he was receiving medical treatment.

Sihanouk came to the throne in 1941 and went on to rule Cambodia off and on more than 60 years.

Sihanouk was heralded for bringing his ancient kingdom through independence from France, war and genocide to form a fragile democracy.

During the Vietnam War, Sihanouk was briefly overthrown by a military coup while travelling overseas.

In an effort to return to power, he aligned himself with the radical communist group, the Khmer Rouge. But by 1976 was sidelined by them and in fear of his life.

The Khmer Rouge remained in power until 1979, but Sihanouk's name remained soiled from his association with the movement that resulted in the deaths of some 1.7 million Cambodians.

He returned from exile in 1991 and regained the throne in 1993 and went on to become a central figure in the country's development.

Sihanouk abdicated the throne to his son, Norodom Sihamoni, in 2004 citing old age and health concerns.