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Water Festival Wraps Up in Capital

Phnom Penh wrapped up its annual Water Festival Tuesday, with at least 18 of nearly 400 racing boats sunk and one Kampong Cham province boatman missing after his craft capsized Monday.

The yearly festival, which features races, a lighted flotilla and millions of spectators, celebrates the defeat of a Cham naval force by an Angkorian fleet.

The festival is also a time when Cambodians give thanks to the waters of the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers, which meet in front of Phnom Penh. It is the most popular of all Cambodia’s annual festivals.

Touch Naroth, chief of Phnom Penh police, said authorities met no big surprises with the crowds this year, although some concerts were suspended because of rain.

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Yearlong Political Deadlock Endsi
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Cambodia’s political deadlock has ended. For nearly a year, the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party has refused to join the government, calling for electoral reforms in a system it says was deeply flawed. Following nearly five hours of meetings between top opposition officials and Prime Minister Hun Sen, that deadlock has ended. The two sides finally reached agreement on a formula for selecting the National Election Committee, which the Rescue Party has said was biased toward the ruling Cambodian People’s Party. Hun Sen and Rescue Party President Sam Rainsy emerged from talks Tuesday smiling and shaking hands. “Victory,” Hun Sen told reporters after the meeting. “You can all applaud.” (Heng Reaksmey, Phnom Penh)

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