2004.10.29 Sihamoni ascends throne of Cambodia

King Norodom Sihamoni presents at his official coronation ceremony in Phnom Penh, Oct. 29, 2004. The crown is on the table next to him. (Xinhua/AFP Photo)

    PHNOM PENH, Oct. 29 (Xinhuanet) -- Newly selected king Norodom Sihamoni has ascended the throne of Cambodia at a solemn coronation ceremony held in the Throne Room of the Royal Palace here Friday evening.

    In the presence of hundreds of government officials, lawmakers and foreign diplomats, the new monarch said he will abide by the Cambodian Constitution and laws and work in the interest of the nation and his people.

    The 51-year-old unmarried king said he was very much honored to have the chance to serve his country and people. He thanked the Senate, National Assembly, Constitutional Council, Supreme Court, and the Royal Government and the Cambodian people for supporting him to succeed his father king Norodom Sihanouk.

    He thanked in particular his father, pledging to follow the example of his august father to take care of his compatriots.

    Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, President of the Senate Chea Sim and National Assembly President Prince Norodom Runariddh, who is also the new king's half-brother, took part in the coronation ceremony.

    Prince Sihamoni was chosen as the new monarch of the country by the nine-member Royal Council on Oct. 14 following his father king Norodom Sihanouk announced abdication on fragile health a week earlier in Beijing. He is the second king for the Cambodian nationin 60 years.

    Friday's coronation ceremony was broadcast live on TV and radio across the country to let more people watch the historic moment.

    At 6 p.m. (1100 GMT) monks of over 3,000 pagodas nationwide started beating gongs and drums and chanting sutras simultaneously to pray for blessings for the new king and fireworks were lit off, pushing the three-day celebration to a climax.

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