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Kingdom celebrates independence

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King Norodom Sihamoni greets his military honour guard as he arrives at the Independence Monument in Phnom Penh for a ceremony on Monday marking the 56th anniversary of the country’s independence from French colonial rule.

KING Norodom Sihamoni and senior government officials have kicked off three days of celebrations marking the 56th anniversary of the country’s independence from French colonial rule.

In a ceremony at the city’s Independence Monument on Monday morning, the King and prominent government figures, including Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Chea Sim and other high-ranking officials, watched as balloons and pigeons were released to mark the country’s birth as an independent nation.

Nhem Valy, deputy secretary general of the Permanent Committee for National and International Ceremonies, said a candle placed inside the monument will remain burning for three days before it is put out on Wednesday afternoon.

“There will be fireworks and traditional performances in the evening to celebrate,” he said.

Cambodia gained its independence on November 9, 1953, after a concerted campaign by then-King Norodom Sihanouk, bringing to an end the French protectorate established over the Kingdom in 1863.

November 9 also marks the 56th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

Mu Sochua, a lawmaker for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP), whose officials also took part in Monday’s ceremony, said Independence Day was a time to reflect on Norodom Sihanouk’s efforts to free the country from foreign domination.

“Lawmakers from the SRP attended this morning’s ceremony because we are Cambodian,” she said. “We are Cambodians devoted to the protection of [our] territorial integrity.”

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