Cambodian opposition ends yearlong political boycott

Cambodia National Rescue Party ends boycott; lawmakers sworn in

Fifty-five opposition politicians were sworn in to the Cambodian parliament Tuesday, ending a yearlong boycott in protest of what they called massive vote rigging by the party of longtime ruler Hun Sen.

The swearing-in of Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy and his colleagues took place at the Royal Palace in front of King Norodom Sihamoni, with the lawmakers decked out in traditional purple and white silk.

The ceremony restored working order to the National Assembly, which gathers Friday for the first legitimate session since the disputed July 2013 election gave 68 seats to the Cambodian People's Party of Hun Sen, who is prime minister.

Although the Rescue Party's showing was the best against Hun Sen in his nearly 30 years in power, Rainsy and fellow party members alleged widespread voting fraud they said deprived them of a majority.

The yearlong stalemate was broken two weeks ago with an agreement between the only two political parties holding seats in the assembly to reform the National Election Committee ahead of the next vote, expected no sooner than February 2018, the Phnom Penh Post reported.

Rescue Party politicians had wanted the elections moved up but appear to have compromised on that objective after eight members were arrested at a protest that turned violent last month and were facing charges that could have led to 30 years in prison. The detained activists were released after the July 22 agreement that the elected Rescue Party members would take up their mandates, which also accords them immunity from prosecution.

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