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Opposition Lawmaker Defects

Keo Remy, a parliamentarian for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, announced Monday he would be leaving to join the newly formed Human Rights Party.

Keo Remy said he had intended to quit politics altogether, but encouragement from loved ones and his constituency convinced him to switch parties instead.

"I have made a decision," Keo Remy said. "I already publicly announced that I would quit politics. But civil society, the people, and some professionals appealed to me in writing to continue politics…. This time I'll join Kem Sokha, forming a Human Rights Party. Therefore please, to the people who have supported and are supporting me, continue to support me through the Human Rights Party."

The Human Rights Party is run by Kem Sokha, the longtime rights advocate jailed last year on defamation charges. His party has emerged as a second potential opposition, though one currently without parliamentary seats.

Kem Sokha so far has not said he will join Sam Rainsy's calls for a united democratic front aimed at upsetting the ruling party's coalition with the splintered royalists, Funcinpec, in the 2008 National Elections .