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Cambodian opposition's 55 lawmakers swear into parliament after 10-month boycott

PHNOM PENH, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) -- All fifty-five politicians from the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) took their oaths as parliamentarians on Tuesday afternoon after boycotting the parliament for ten months against disputed election results in July last year.

CNRP president Sam Rainsy led the group to a swearing-in ceremony, which was held at the Royal Palace under the auspices of the nation's King Norodom Sihamoni, said CNRP's lawmaker Son Chhay.

"After the swearing-in ceremony, CNRP's lawmakers will join the parliamentary session for the first time on Aug. 8," he told reporters.

The opposition party had boycotted the parliament since the opening session in September, claiming irregularities during a parliamentary election in July last year.

The Cambodian People's Party (CPP) of Prime Minister Hun Sen was declared the winner in the election, gaining 68 seats to the CNRP's 55. The CNRP immediately refused to accept the results, alleging vote-rigging, and had boycotted the parliament since September.

During the post-election crisis, the opposition had staged a lot of street demonstrations and led to violent clashes between demonstrators and government forces.

CNRP announced to end its boycott of parliament on July 22 after the ruling CPP agreed to its proposals for an overhaul of the National Election Committee (NEC), power sharing in the parliament and a television channel.

After being sworn in, CNRP's 55 lawmakers will work with the CPP's 68 lawmakers to elect the leadership of the parliament and to amend the Constitution in order to enshrine the autonomy of a new NEC.

Chheang Vannarith, senior researcher of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said the political reconciliation and breakthrough strengthened the legitimacy of the government and helped concretize deep and comprehensive reforms in Cambodia.

"If the reforms go smoothly, Cambodia will receive more international development assistance and foreign direct investment, significantly contribute to poverty reduction," he said.

Nguon Meng Tech, director general of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce, said political breakthrough is a positive step to ensure political stability, which is a key element for attracting investments.

"As political crisis has ended, I have confidence that more foreign investors will come to Cambodia," he said.

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