Cambodian opposition chief heads new party

AP News
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Posted: Oct 02, 2012 8:03 AM
Cambodian opposition chief heads new party

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia's two main opposition parties have formalized their merger by winning approval for self-exiled politician Sam Rainsy to be leader of the newly formed Cambodia National Rescue Party.

Spokesman Pol Ham said Tuesday his new party was formed after the Sam Rainsy Party and Human Rights Party agreed in July to join forces.

He said the Interior Minister Sar Kheng signed the official endorsement Friday recognizing Sam Rainsy as the new party's president.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has ruled Cambodia with an iron grip for decades, and the opposition faces handicaps in mounting a challenge in next year's general election. Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party holds 90 of the 123 parliamentary seats.

Sam Rainsy lives in self-imposed exile in Paris to avoid prison from convictions critics say were political persecution.