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.”