November 9, 2017 / 4:51 AM / a year ago

Cambodia marks independence from France with doves, balloons

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni is greeted by prime minister Hun Sen during the celebration marking the 64th anniversary of the country's independence from France, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Samrang Pring

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - Cambodians on Thursday marked the 64th anniversary of the country’s independence from France by releasing doves and balloons into the sky at the Independence Monument in the capital Phnom Penh.

Late King Norodom Sihanouk declared Cambodia’s independence from France in 1953 after seizing power a year earlier in a bloodless coup, but maintained good relations with the European nation.

Thursday’s independence ceremony was attended by current King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for more than 30 years, and was attended by thousands of school children, civil servants and foreign diplomats.

Cambodia was under French rule for almost a century before its 1953 independence.

Hun Sen in a Facebook post credited King Norodom Sihanouk with devoting his life to fight for the independence.

“November 9 is the day that brought independence, territorial integrity, peace and development,” Hun Sen said.

Hun Sen’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party has cracked down on the opposition in recent months in the lead up to a 2018 election. His government has asked the Supreme Court to dissolve the main opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party.

A court ruling is expected to decide the matter next week.

Reporting by Prak Chan Thul; Editing by Amy Sawitta Lefevre and Michael Perry

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