- Title: Cambodia opposition leader returns to parliament after royal pardon
- Date: 7th December 2016
- Summary: PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA (DECEMBER 7, 2016) (REUTERS) ***WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** EXTERIOR OF THE PARLIAMENT BUILDING OPPOSITION PARTY DEPUTY LEADER MR KEM SOKHA ARRIVING AT THE REGISTRATION DESK MEDIA PRIME MINISTER HUN SEN ARRIVING AT THE REGISTRATION DESK BODYGUARDS STANDING AT THE ENTRANCE OF THE PARLIAMENT SESSION ROOM MEDIA RECORDING THE PLAYOUT FROM TELEVISION SCREEN PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA (DECEMBER 7, 2016) (ORIGINALLY 4:3) (REUTERS) VIDEO FILMED BY PARLIAMENT TV PLAYING ON SCREEN SHOWING PARLIAMENT CHAIRMAN HENG SAMRIN PRIME MINISTER HUN SEN SPEAKING IN THE PARLIAMENT OPPOSITION PARTY DEPUTY LEADER KEM SOKHA (FIRST ROW AND ON THE RIGHT) LISTENING PARLIAMENT CHAIMAN HENG SAMRIN AND THE SECOND DEPUTY LEADER NGUON NHEL LISTENING PRIME MINISTER HUN SEN (RIGHT) LISTENING TO THE OPPOSITION PARTY DEPUTY LEADER KEM SOKHA SPEECH (SOUNDBITE) (Khmer) OPPOSITION PARTY DEPUTY LEADER KEM SOKHA SAYING: "What I said to Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier is that from now on when we criticize each other on morality, we avoid any cursing and accusing of each other that led to cause pain to others and pulled the nation apart." VARIOUS OF MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT SITTING IN THE SESSION PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA (DECEMBER 7, 2016) (REUTERS) DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER MR SAR KHENG WALKING OUT OF THE PARLIAMENT SESSION MEDIA (SOUNDBITE) (Khmer) DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND THE MINISTER OF INTERIOR SAR KHENG SAYING: "As far as I know before the end of this month (December) there will be the release of the human rights activists and a member of the Election Commission." SAR KHENG LEAVING THE PARLIAMENT BUILDING
- Embargoed: 22nd December 2016 08:25
- Keywords: Cambodia opposition leader parliament royal pardon Kem Sokha Cambodia National Rescue Party
- Location: PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
- City: PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA
- Country: Cambodia
- Reuters ID: LVA0015BVW8XX
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: The leader of Cambodia's opposition party returned to parliament on Wednesday (December 7) after receiving a royal pardon, a move that could ease a year of political tension in the Southeast Asian country.
The opposition complains that Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling party has launched a crackdown in a bid to intimidate critics before a general election due in 2018.
Kem Sokha, the acting leader of the Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), said he would work with Hun Sen and his Cambodian People's Party (CPP) to end disputes.
Kem Sokha was sentenced to five months in prison in September after failing to appear in court over a case against two lawmakers from his party.
Since May he had been holed up at the CNRP headquarters in the capital, Phnom Penh, to avoid arrest, and he received a royal pardon at Hun Sen's request last week.
"What I said to Prime Minister Hun Sen earlier is that from now on when we criticize each other on morality, we avoid any cursing and accusing of each other that led to cause pain to others and pulled the nation apart," he said during a speech in parliament.
Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia with an iron fist for 30 years, congratulated Kem Sokha on his appointment as parliament's minority leader on Wednesday and said he looked forward to working with the opposition leader.
Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng said the government is also looking to release more political prisoners.
Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who lives abroad in exile, said on social network Twitter that he remained the minority leader in parliament.
Hun Sen's strategy appears to drive a bigger wedge between the two opposition leaders by allowing Kem Sokha the space to assume more formal leadership while blocking Sam Rainsy's return, political analysts said.
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