CPP Abuses US Aid, Sam Rainsy Charges

Speaking just a few blocks from the White House in Wash­ing­ton, Sam Rainsy on Wednes­day asked the US administration to send a clear signal demonstra­ting its commitment to democracy in Cambodia.

He told reporters at the Nation­al Press Club the US could show such a commitment by supporting reform of Cambodia’s Nation­al Election Committee and helping to guarantee equal access to media for all parties during the 2003 national election campaign.

He noted that US President George W Bush had called for accountability in exchange for aid at the recent UN Poverty Summit in Mexico, and suggested the US use its influence with the Inter­national Monetary Fund, World Bank and Asian Develop­ment Bank to see accountability policies are adopted.

“The US Congress has taken a principled stand that restricts aid to the Cambodian government to a handful of social sectors where the government has completely failed its citizens—AIDS prevention, human trafficking and education,” Sam Rainsy said.

“But even US aid is abused. I was saddened to read just last week that a major US contribution of food to the UN World Food Program was handed over in a ceremony to CPP Foreign Min­ister Hor Namhong. No doubt that this food will be selectively distributed as gifts from the CPP—perhaps days before parliamentary elections next July.”

He pointed out that Cambodia received over $600 million in foreign assistance in 2001.

“Of this assistance, that which reaches Cambodians does so only by way of CPP patronage,” he charged. “Even the Cambo­dian Red Cross is little more than a patronage machine for the CPP, with aid given to people only as gifts from [Prime Minister] Hun Sen and his wife Bun Rany, the head of the Red Cross.”

Sam Rainsy specifically criticized the US for not supporting the UN’s decision to withdraw from talks with Cambodia on the Khmer Rouge tribunal.

“To my surprise, outside of human rights groups, world opinion did not rally to support the UN,” Sam Rainsy said. “Instead, Western governments led by the United States have asked the UN to go crawling back to the negotiating table. Do these governments want to see the UN make more concessions to a dictator in what has become an already unworkable trial framework? Or is it merely the desire of Western diplomats to bring any single Khmer Rouge leader to trial at any cost?”

In summary notes handed out with his speech, Sam Rainsy sta­ted that “the US ambassador seems to have made this flawed trial his top priority at the expense of more important demands on US influence in Cambodia.”

He said Cambodia should be judged by its current actions, not by its disastrous past or the policies of its neighboring countries.

He asked “whether there was a sign at the airport that has missed my notice, saying: ‘Cambodia: It’s better than Burma?’

“Or perhaps there is a sign on his office door that I missed, saying: ‘Hun Sen: He’s better than Pol Pot?”’



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