PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Members of Cambodia's opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party were sworn in Tuesday as National Assembly lawmakers, officially ending a deadlock that began when they charged that the results of a general election a year ago were rigged.
Party leader Sam Rainsy and 54 colleagues took their oaths in front of King Norodom Sihamoni inside the Royal Palace.
The opposition agreed to take their seats after reaching a deal two weeks ago with Prime Minister Hun Sen and his Cambodian People's Party for political reforms and the sharing of leadership positions in National Assembly committees. There are no other parties holding any seats.
Hun Sen's authoritarian government has been in power for almost three decades and is known for intimidating opponents. The strong showing by the opposition in last year's elections posed the biggest challenge to Hun Sen in years.
The opposition accused the National Election Committee of failing to operate fairly and efficiently in last year's elections. In a surprise development, the two parties agreed last week to appoint Pung Chhiv Kek, the outgoing head of the local human rights group Licadho, to a so-called neutral seat on the election committee.
The 71-year-old activist has been a critic of Hun Sen's government for more than two decades, and helped build her organization into an effective and respected watchdog.
Hun Sen's party holds 68 seats in the National Assembly, which is set to open on Friday, according to opposition whip Son Chhay. Lawmakers are to choose the assembly's president and vice presidents, along with the chairmen of 10 committees.