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Cambodia opposition gets more sway in new-look parliament

Published on Aug 26, 2014 8:11 PM
 
Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Sam Rainsy speaking with the media after voting at the National Assembly in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014. The opposition CNRP boosted its influence in a parliament long controlled by the ruling party, winning a deputy chairman post and assurances of greater legislative sway under a deal to end a year-long political impasse. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

PHNOM PENH (REUTERS) - Cambodia's opposition on Tuesday boosted its influence in a parliament long controlled by the ruling party, winning a deputy chairman post and assurances of greater legislative sway under a deal to end a year-long political impasse.

The election of Kem Sokha as deputy house speaker is one of a slew of concessions by Prime Minister Hun Sen seldom seen during his three-decade grip on politics, reflecting the opposition's newfound power and growing public discontent with an authoritarian premier.

The National Assembly has long been seen as a rubber stamp for Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party (CPP), but it is now the most balanced it has ever been after the opposition reinvented itself and won 55 seats to the CPP's 68 in a disputed 2013 poll, running on promises to halt land grabs and raise factory wages.

The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) controls 44 percent of the house, which it boycotted for a year over a poll it said was rife with fraud. "Even though a CPP member is president, they can't ignore the huge voice of the opposition party. It's hard for them to do that, because we are a lot of people," Kem Sokha told reporters. "But we can see that this is a good start." RARE DEAL Hun Sen refused to allow a re-run of the election, but with only his party in parliament and faced with months of sometimes violent protests, he struck a deal in July with CNRP leader Sam Rainsy to put aside their differences.

 
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