Cambodian opposition leader returns from exile

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Cambodia's charismatic opposition leader has returned from self-imposed exile to spearhead his party's election campaign against the country's well-entrenched prime minister.

Sam Rainsy was greeted by a large crowd of supporters from his Cambodia National Rescue Party after he landed Friday at the airport in the capital, Phnom Penh.

He received a royal pardon last week at the request of his political rival, Prime Minister Hun Sen, whose Cambodian People's Party is almost certain to maintain its ironclad grip on power in the July 28 general election.

Hun Sen has held power for 28 years, and his party holds 90 of the 123 seats in the National Assembly.

The opposition leader has been in exile since 2009 to avoid serving 11 years in prison on charges many consider politically motivated.

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