Demobilization Process Gets Ministry Review

The Ministry of Defense will hold a meeting today to discuss the demobilization of elderly, in­firm and so-called ghost soldiers from the ranks of the country’s bloated armed forces, officials said.

Co-Minister of Defense Nhiek Bun Chhay will chair the meeting to discuss how many of the estimated 100,000-plus troops will be re­tained and how many will be retired.

But Nhiek Bun Chhay said that the demobilization process, which aims at having Cambodian troops of a standard equal to those in Viet­nam and Thai­land, will depend on the national bud­get.

Some 16,500 RCAF troops were officially demobilized in recent years, but the second phase of the de­mobilization process, which was scheduled to see 25,000 troops re­tired, has stalled because of a lack of funds, co-Minister of De­­fense Tea Banh said on Tues­day.

“The next [demobilization] program has not started yet because we have no funds,” Tea Banh said. “When we have money it will be launched.”

In 2004 the World Bank ended its involvement in Cambodia’s military demobilization process after de­­claring massive misprocurement in its $18.4 million project in­tended to ease demobilized soldiers into civilian life.

The government agreed in Jan­uary to return $2.8 million of the mis­­appropriated World Bank funds. Shortly afterward, Prime Min­ister Hun Sen called the Bank’s de­­mands an “injustice.”


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