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Opposition Lawmakers Sworn In, Ending Political Deadlock

  • Heng Reaksmey
  • VOA Khmer

The Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers attended a swearing in ceremony in traditional dress at the Royal Palace, in front of King Norodom Sihamoni.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers attended a swearing in ceremony in traditional dress at the Royal Palace, in front of King Norodom Sihamoni.

All 55 opposition lawmakers who won seats in last year’s national election were sworn in to the National Assembly Tuesday, ending a yearlong political stalemate.

The Cambodia National Rescue Party lawmakers attended a swearing in ceremony in traditional dress at the Royal Palace, in front of King Norodom Sihamoni.

“We have fulfilled our duty,” Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy said after the ceremony, which followed a political deal late last month.

The lawmakers later posed for photographs holding their fingers for the No. 7, their slot on the July 2013 ballot.

“What we promised we have done,” Rescue Party Vice President Kem Sokha said. “Today, we can struggle for justice. The court right now can do whatever it wants, because we have immunity.”

He was referring to charges against seven lawmakers for insurrection and incitement, following violent clashes between opposition supporters and Phnom Penh security personnel last month.

Three activists remain in jail on similar charges related to the July 15 clashes. Rescue Party lawmaker Son Chhay said he believed those three will soon be released.

Lawmakers said they plan to join a National Assembly session on Aug. 8. That would mark a 10-month boycott of the Assembly following the announcement of election results last year.

Chheang Von, a lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said he was happy to see the swearing-in ceremony, calling it a “victory” for Cambodia.

Rescue Party lawmakers now hope to reform the National Election Committee, as well as the National Assembly.

But Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the one-time political rival of Prime Minister Hun Sen, told VOA Khmer from France that he doubted the opposition could enact reforms and resolve the “big national problems” Cambodia is facing.

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