The body of former prime minister Pen Sovann arrived at Phnom Penh’s Wat Than pagoda yesterday, with opposition officials and representatives of his family set for a meeting at City Hall today to push the case to cremate him at Wat Botum park.
Municipal officials on Monday rejected a request to hold the cremation at the park – an honour afforded not so long ago to late Cambodian People’s Party icon and Senate President Chea Sim – but opposition lawmaker Pol Ham said the funeral’s organisers still hoped to hold it there.
“[Sovann’s] family and the committee request to hold the cremation in front of Wat Botum, but so far we have not received a positive response,” said Ham, the head of the funeral committee. He added Sovann’s body will be kept at Wat Than until Sunday’s ceremony.
Sovann was Cambodia’s first prime minister after the fall of the Khmer Rouge, and the first general secretary of the communist party that would later become the CPP, but was soon removed from his position by Vietnam. The ruling party has since disowned him. Most recently, he served as a Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmaker for Kampong Speu.
CNRP spokesman Yem Ponhearith said Long Ry, the party’s head of security, and members of Sovann’s family were set to attend a meeting on the issue at City Hall today.
“Long Ry will have discussions about this issue tomorrow,” Ponhearith said. “The family is asking to cremate [the body] on Sunday morning.”