Oct. 30 - Thousands of Cambodians celebrate the 20th anniversary of former king Norodom Sihanouk's return from exile. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: Thousands of Cambodians gathered in front of the royal palace on Sunday (October 30) to participate in celebrations marking the 20th anniversary of former king Norodom Sihanouk's return from exile in China. Sunday is also Sihanouk's 90th birthday. Prime Minister Hun Sen and senior officials joined Norodom Sihamoni, the current king, on a special stage at the royal palace, while policemen, army officials, students and civilians watched from below. The ceremony started with a royal ballet performance to bless the former king and leaders. Many spectators waved the red and blue flag of Cambodia and held up pictures of Sihanouk and former queen Monineath Sihanouk, as they waited to catch a glimpse of their former king. Citing ill health, Sihanouk announced his abdication of the throne in 2004 shortly after going into self-imposed exile in North Korea and China. His son Sihamoni was appointed his successor. Sihanouk said he planned to spend more time in Cambodia. In 1976, the Khmer Rouge forced Sihanouk out of office and into political retirement. He sought refuge in China and North Korea. In 1991, the Coalition Government of Democratic Kampuchea and the People's Republic of Kampuchea signed a comprehensive peace settlement in Paris that enabled Sihanouk to return and opposition parties to take part in an election organized by the United Nations.