The Kingdom on November 9 celebrated the 68th anniversary of the country’s independence from French colonial rule under the leadership of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk in 1953.

The official celebrations took place at the Independence Monument and the Statue of the late King Father in central Phnom Penh.

King Norodom Sihamoni, Prime Minister Hun Sen, Senate President Say Chhum, National Assembly (NA) President Heng Samrin, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, Minister of National Defence Tea Banh and other national and foreign dignitaries as well as representatives from the private sector and civil society were all present for the event.

“National Independence Day, November 9, reminds us all about the royal mission of King Father Norodom Sihanouk – the struggle which he undertook for the sake of the motherland and to which he devoted himself both physically and mentally to achieving – the demand for real independence for the nation of Cambodia,” Hun Sen wrote in a Facebook post, also noting that November 9 marks the 68th anniversary of the establishment of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also extended his congratulations to Cambodia on the 68th anniversary, according to a press release from the US Department of State on November 8.

“The United States looks forward to working together with Cambodia as the next ASEAN Chair to maintain peace and security through strong leadership on sustainable development in the Indo-Pacific region.

“We will continue to stand with the Cambodian people as they pursue a more prosperous, democratic and independent future and as they celebrate the values both Cambodians and Americans share,” Blinken said in the press statement, adding that the US also looked forward to working with Cambodia to “build back better” in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Officials attend the commemoration of Independence Day on Tuesday. Hong Menea

The UN in Cambodia also commemorated the event. “[We] sincerely congratulate the Kingdom of Cambodia on its Independence Day. On this occasion, we wish peace and prosperity to all Cambodian people.”

Hun Many, a National Assembly member representing Kampong Speu province, said Cambodians will honour and exemplify the bravery of the late King Father by protecting the country from foreign interference and preventing the nation from being sabotaged by any means necessary.

Former opposition leader Kem Sokha also sent out a short congratulatory message saying “national unity brings national independence”.

The Grassroots Democracy Party (GDP) also issued a statement to commemorate the day. It said history has shown that ever since Cambodia gained independence in 1953, national unity and solidarity were the backbone maintaining its independence and sovereignty.

“However, national unity and solidarity does not mean that people and politicians with a tendency towards different views must always mobilise under the leadership of the same party or movement and if that is always the case then it will not help Cambodians live together wholly in peace,” the GDP statement said.

Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said that given the nation’s history, everyone should view this holiday’s existence and Cambodia’s continued independence as an extraordinary thing which all Cambodian people – and especially politicians – should defend with similarly tremendous efforts to further strengthen the nation’s independence.