Beijing: Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodia`s former king and independence hero who was twice exiled and twice returned to the throne, navigating his country during turbulent times, died here on Monday of natural causes.
He was 89.
"Our former King died at 2:00 am early Monday in Beijing due to natural cause. This is a great loss for Cambodia. We feel very sad. The former King was a great King that we all respect and love him," Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister Nhik Bun Chhay said.
Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen arrived in Beijing this afternoon to bring home the body of King-Father Norodom Sihanouk.
Sihanouk was born on October 31, 1922. He suffered from various forms of cancer, diabetes and hypertension and had been treated by Chinese doctors in Beijing for years, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Sihanouk ascended the throne in 1941 and led Cambodia to independence from France in 1953. Despite long periods of exile and his abdication in 2004 due to ill health, in favour of his son and present King Sihamoni, he remained an influential figure.
Sihanouk is the son of King Norodom Suramarit and Queen Sisowath Kossamak.
During his life time, he had held many positions since 1941, including two terms as the King, two as sovereign prince, one as president, two as prime minister, and one as Cambodia`s non-titled head of state.
After the country fully gained independence from France on March 02, 1955, Sihanouk abdicated in favour of his father, established the Sangkum Reasniyum regime and took the post of prime minister a few months later, after having obtained an overwhelming victory in the Parliamentary Elections in September 1955.