Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema on Thursday denied that attendance for the International Association of Francophone Mayors conference had been embarrassingly low, saying that mayors and deputy mayors for 109 cities in 56 countries had participated.
“This is the first time for Cambodia to host a conference with so many foreign delegations participating,” he said at a news conference after the meeting.
“Only a few cities were absent from the conference, and that had nothing to do with security in Cambodia. Those mayors and deputy mayors are busy in their countries,” Kep Chuktema said.
The governor’s comments appeared to address those made earlier in the week by a municipal official who asked not to be named. That official said that many delegations had decided to stay home because they feared security in Cambodia was unreliable.
The official also alleged that Prime Minister Hun Sen’s removal of former Phnom Penh governor Chea Sophara was to blame.
The same municipal official on Thursday continued to dispute Kep Chuktema’s attendance claims, saying that only 23 mayors and deputy mayors joined the conference. In total, 53 cities in 30 different countries were represented—either by elected officials, consultants or observers, the official said.
The conference consisted of three days of discussions on government decentralization, urban management and planning and beautification projects, according to Dun Vibol, a municipal official who assisted in preparations for the conference.
Hun Sen said that the gathering of Francophone mayors is a viable way for those officials to improve the lives of residents in the home cities.