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Cambodian Political Rivals Meet Amid Deadly Protests

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and the country's main opposition leader held talks for a second time to find a way to resolve a political crisis that has escalated into deadly violence.

Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Phnom Penh's Freedom Park for a second day Monday as Mr. Hun Sen sat down with Sam Rainsy, leader of the Cambodian National Rescue Party. The meeting occurred a day after protesters marched through Phnom Penh and clashed with police who were armed with tear gas, smoke grenades and water cannons.

Human rights activists say one person was fatally shot on an overpass leading to Freedom Park, where 20,000 opposition activists had gathered for a rally addressed by Rainsy.

Sunday's violence marked an escalation of a political crisis that has gripped Cambodia since the election commission certified Hun Sen's Cambodian People's Party as the winner of the July election with 68 seats in the national assembly, ahead of Rainsy's CNRP with 55 seats.

The CNRP has rejected those results, alleging widespread fraud.



The certification has left Rainsy with few legal options to challenge the result. Rainsy's party is vowing to boycott the September 23 opening of parliament unless an independent commission is established to investigate the alleged irregularities.

The government has rejected the demands.

Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni brought the two rivals together Saturday for a rare meeting that ended without a breakthrough.

Hun Sen has led Cambodia for 28 years and is seen by critics as an authoritarian ruler despite overseeing a period of prolonged economic growth. Sam Rainsy was not a candidate in the election -- having been in self-imposed exile before returning to Cambodia in July. He returned home after being pardoned by the king for criminal convictions which Rainsy says were politically motivated.

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