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Sam Rainsy Party Joins Assembly Swear-In

Four political parties, including the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, attended a swearing-in ceremony for a new government Wednesday, but the Human Rights Party held fast to promises it would boycott, withholding three elected lawmakers from the process.

The attendance of Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers followed weeks of threats to boycott the ceremony, potentially threatening to deadlock to the government or cost the opposition some positions in the Assembly.

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy arrived at the National Assembly building in Phnom Penh's Chamkar Mon district early Wednesday morning for the opening of the Assembly, with King Norodom Sihamoni presiding.

Reporters were barred from the Assembly session, and Sam Rainsy declined to speak to reporters afterward. His party won 26 of 123 National Assembly seats in July's election, second behind the 90 seats won by the Cambodian People's Party.

Sam Rainsy had said before Wednesday's session the election had been fraudulent and had called for a revote while threatening to withhold his candidates from Wednesday's ceremony.

Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said lawmakers joined the government on Wednesday after Prime Minister Hun Sen promised to have the opposition role officially recognized by the government and to provide a budget for opposition operations.

Hun Sen addressed reporters Wednesday morning.

"All political parties joined the meeting around the king except the Human Rights Party of Kem Sokha," Hun Sen said. "I promised to get the request by Sam Rainsy discussed in the National Assembly ad hoc [committee] to be put in the internal rules."

Human Rights Party lawmakers Kem Sokha, Yem Ponhearith and Ou Chanrith stayed at their headquarters in Phnom Penh Wednesday morning, watching the Assembly ceremony on TV.

"We are following a request from the voters to boycott," HRP President Kem Sokha said by phone.

"The fourth legislative National Assembly meeting is a new opportunity in history for the legislative institution," King Norodom Sihamoni told incoming lawmakers, and it was imperative the Assembly hold Cambodia's interests above all others.