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Sihanouk dead

Phnom Penh, Oct. 15 (AP): He was many things to the Cambodia he helped navigate through half a century of war and genocide — revered independence hero, ruthless monarch and Prime Minister, communist collaborator, eccentric playboy.

Most of all, perhaps, Cambodia’s former King Norodom Sihanouk was a cunning political survivor who reinvented himself repeatedly throughout his often flamboyant life.

Today, aged 89, Sihanouk died of a heart attack in Beijing, where he had been receiving medical treatment since January.

First crowned king by the French in 1941 at the age of 18, Sihanouk saw his southeast Asian nation transformed from colony to kingdom, from US-backed regime to US bombing zone, from Khmer Rouge killing field to what it remains today

Sihanouk ruled as a feudal-style absolute monarch, but called himself a democrat. He was a man who sang love songs at elaborate state dinners, brought his French poodle to peace talks, and charmed foreign dignitaries such as Jacqueline Kennedy.

He also painted, fielded a palace soccer team, composed music and led his own jazz band.

 
 
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