Sam Rainsy, upper center, leader of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) greets supporters upon his arrival at Phnom Penh International Airport in Phnom Penh,, Saturday. Pic: AP.

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — Thousands of cheering supporters have greeted Cambodian opposition leader Sam Rainsy on his return from a trip abroad, at a time when political tensions are high because of the arrests of eight of his party colleagues.

His return Saturday came less than a week ahead of the anniversary of last year’s contentious July 28 election, which his Cambodia National Rescue Party claims was rigged. Its lawmakers have boycotted their seats in the National Assembly and are demanding reforms and new elections.

This past week seven lawmakers and another party activist were charged with offenses that could see them jailed for up to 30 years. They were detained after violence broke out when party supporters sought to stage a demonstration at a park authorities had closed to them.

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