Deputy Premier Urges Aid Despite Doubters

Deputy Prime Minister and co-Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Wednesday dismissed opposition leaders who have asked donors to halt assistance to Cambodia until a new government is formed. At an inauguration ceremony for six schools in Banteay Mean­chey province, Sar Kheng said that, despite the opposition’s pleas, the Asian Development Bank is continuing to fund ongoing projects in Cambodia.

“Some politicians made a call to stop any further aid to Cambodia, but obviously donors are still assisting us in various aid projects,” he said, citing the new schools as evidence.

The Asian Development Bank on Feb 10 said it would not ap­prove new loans to Cambodia without approval from the Nation­al Assembly, but said ongoing as­sistance projects will continue through the stand-off.

The Assembly has not convened a working session since August 2003.

The ADB statement was given in response to a letter from opposition leader Sam Rainsy, who urged the ADB not to grant Cam­bodia new loans without parliament’s approval.

On Feb 11, the Alliance of Demo­­crats also wrote to the World Bank requesting that hu­manitarian assistance to Cambo­dia continue, but to place on hold any loan agreements requiring the Assembly’s approval.

As evidence of good relations between the current government and donor organizations, Sar Kheng told the audience at the inauguration that he had traveled on Tuesday to Koh Kong pro­vince with ADB and UN De­velopment Programme officials.

He also advised civil servants to disregard politics during the months-long stalemate as the current government would keep the country running and they would continue to collect their salaries.

Eng Chhay Eang, Sam Rainsy Party’s secretary general, ex­plained the opposition’s stance Wednesday.

“This government is illegitimate,” he said. “The reason we do not want [donors] to renew the aid contracts is because we are afraid that the money will fall in the hands of a certain group of people and not go to the needy.”

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