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Opposition Party's Lawmakers' Immunities Are Restored

The National Assembly votes Tuesday to restore parliamentary immunity to opposition party leader, Mr. Sam Rainsy and his two colleagues, in what was seen as a victory for national reconciliation and democracy.

One hundred fourteen of 123 lawmakers who convene vote by raising their hands to restore the immunities for Mr. Sam Rainsy, Mr. Cheam Channy, and Mr. Chea Poch.

This action materializes after King Sihamoni gave a royal pardon to these legislators according to Prime Minister Hun Sen's request, and after serious criticisms from international community, donor countries, and international human rights organizations, especially the US.

Prince Norodom Ranarith, National Assembly's president says H.E. Sam Rainsy from Prey Veng constituency receives his immunity this Tuesday with 114 votes supporting it in the 4th meeting of the Assembly, and we rejoice.

Mr. Hun Sen says that he is happy about this historical event because all parties express their gestures of loyalty, show signs of democracy and national reconciliation.

He wants to keep this kind of atmosphere for national's interest.

Mr. Sam Rainsy calls this action a sign showing national unity which the Assembly begins to act out. He says his colleagues Mr. Cheam Channy, Mr. Chea Poch, and he have been reinstated as members of parliament and they have their immunities restored.

He says that this shows the national reconciliation's spirit.

U.S. Embassy's Charge d'Affairs Mark Storella says that: I think one year ago we witness a dark age for Cambodian democracy, but today is a very good day for Cambodian democracy, and we are happy with the Assembly's activities.

Those three legislators fled abroad because they were charged with defamation against Mr. Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh.

International human rights officials note that this national unity happens shortly before the donor countries' meeting with the government this week.