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Former Cambodian King Remembered on Death Anniversary

A student holds a portrait of Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni (C), after the unveiling ceremony of a statue (back) of the late King Norodom Sihanouk in central Phnom Penh, Oct. 11, 2013.
Cambodia held a day of remembrance for deceased former King Norodom Sihanouk, inaugurating a statue of the late monarch to mark a year since his death.

Top officials from the ruling Cambodian People’s Party were in attendance Tuesday, but members of the opposition did not join the ceremony and say they were banned from holding one of their own this week.

Kem Sokha, vice president of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, told reporters that the party mourned the loss of the king at its party headquarters; but, he assailed the ruling Cambodian People’s Party for monopolizing Tuesday’s official ceremony.

"The statue of the late king father belongs to us all," he said. "It does not belong to the government or any parties."

Cambodia's main political parties are currently feuding over the results of elections in July.

The statue of King Sihanouk was erected near Independence Monument, which marks Cambodia’s break from France under the direction of the then-prince Sihanouk.

Hundreds of thousands of people mourned his death last year when his body was returned from China, where he frequently stayed for medical treatment.

A computer science student at Norton University, who gave her name as Chanthou, said his memory is kept alive across many forms of media.

"Even on Facebook, they share his photo every day. I listen to the songs he wrote on the radio. He was so young, to be in power at 16 years of age, but his governance was very good," she said.

The late king died last year in Beijing at the age of 89.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Khmer service.