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Key dates in Cambodia's royal and political history

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Former monarch Norodom Sihanouk, who died in October shortly before his 90th birthday, played a key role in Cambodia's history, which was marked by coups, wars, genocide and eventually peace.

Here are the major events that shaped Cambodia during the lifetime of the revered Sihanouk, whose elaborate funeral got underway on Friday:

1922:

-- October 31: Prince Norodom Sihanouk is born.

1941:

-- April 25: Colonial power France installs the 18-year-old Sihanouk on the throne, believing he will be easily managed.

1953:

-- November 9: France grants Cambodia independence.

1955:

-- March 2: Sihanouk abdicates to pursue a career in politics and his father Norodom Suramarit is named king. Sihanouk becomes prime minister several times over the years.

1960:

-- April 3: Sihanouk again becomes head of state after the death of his father.

1970:

-- March 18: Sihanouk is deposed in a US-backed coup by General Lon Nol, who establishes a republic. Exiled in China, Sihanouk aligns himself with the Khmer Rouge and urges Cambodians to join in a guerrilla war against the new regime.

1975:

-- April 17: The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, march into Phnom Penh, beginning a reign of terror that will leave up to two million people dead from starvation, overwork or execution.

-- September 9: Sihanouk returns as head of state but resigns a few months later and is placed under "palace arrest" by the hardline communist regime.

1979:

-- January 6: Sihanouk is evacuated to Beijing on the eve of an invasion by Vietnamese forces that ousts the Khmer Rouge. Civil war ensues, pitting the Khmer Rouge, nationalists and royalists against each other.

1982:

-- June 22: From exile, Sihanouk becomes president of the anti-Vietnamese coalition government of Democratic Kampuchea, which includes his newly created FUNCINPEC party and the Khmer Rouge.

1985:

-- January 14: Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge cadre who defected, is appointed as prime minister of Cambodia's Vietnam-installed government.

1989:

-- September 27: Vietnamese troops withdraw from Cambodia under international pressure.

1991:

-- October 23: Paris peace agreement is signed, giving the UN authority to supervise a ceasefire and democratic elections.

-- November 14: Sihanouk makes a triumphant return to Cambodia after nearly 13 years in exile.

1993:

-- May 23: UN-sponsored elections are held and the royalist FUNCINPEC party receives 47 percent of the vote, ahead of Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP).

-- September 24: Sihanouk returns to the throne under a new constitution transforming the country into a constitutional monarchy, which allows for the king to reign but not to rule.

His son Norodom Ranariddh is elected as first prime minister and Hun Sen is named second prime minister, after pressure from the UN.

-- October: Sihanouk makes the first of many trips to Beijing for medical treatment after being diagnosed with B-cell lymphoma, a cancer affecting blood cells crucial to the immune system.

1994:

-- July 7: The Khmer Rouge are outlawed.

1997:

-- July 5-6: Hun Sen ousts Ranariddh in a widely condemned move that leads to deadly factional street fighting.

1998:

-- April 15: Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot dies.

2001:

-- August 10: Sihanouk promulgates a law creating a UN-backed tribunal to bring Khmer Rouge leaders to justice.

2004:

-- October 7: In a surprise announcement, Sihanouk abdicates, citing poor health and a wish to ensure a stable transition to a new monarch.

-- October 14: Sihanouk's 51-year-old son Norodom Sihamoni, a former dancer and Cambodia's representative to UNESCO, is named the new king.

2005:

-- May 1: Sihanouk writes on his website that his cancer has returned and is very serious.

2009:

-- June 22: Sihanouk says on his website that he has been successfully treated for a third bout of cancer.

-- October 2: Sihanouk says he has lived too long and wishes to die. "Lengthy longevity bears on me like an unbearable weight," he says in a handwritten note posted on his website.

2011:

-- October 30: During a ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of his return from exile, Sihanouk vows not to leave Cambodia again despite his health problems.

2012

-- January 19: Sihanouk heads back to Beijing for medical treatment.

-- October 15: Sihanouk dies of a heart attack in Beijing. His body is flown back to Phnom Penh and, embalmed with the help of Chinese experts, lies in state until the lavish funeral in February 2013.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130131/key-dates-cambodias-royal-and-political-history