Japan is threatening to withdraw aid from the Cambodian Bar Association due to an ongoing dispute over the Bar’s presidency, according to members and a letter from the Japanese aid agency.
In the letter dated May 6, Japan International Cooperation Agency’s Resident Representative Juro Chikaraishi told the bar’s presidential rivals, Suon Visal and Ky Tech, that JICA cannot continue assistance until their struggle for leadership is resolved.
“The internal tumult about the presidency and the disparity of the [Bar Association of the Kingdom of Cambodia] members over this issue make us feel uncertain about the solidarity of BAKC and whether it is an appropriate partner to implement a project together,” Chikaraishi wrote in the letter obtained from Suon Visal on Tuesday.
“[T]he current situation in BAKC prevents JICA from continuing its support to BAKC,” the letter added.
Though Suon Visal won an Oct 16 vote, defeating incumbent President Ky Tech, the Appeals Court overruled the election results a month later and reinstated Ky Tech as president. Lawyers are now waiting for the Supreme Court to determine their president.
Chikaraishi could not be reached for comment. A JICA receptionist stated that the representative handling its legal and judicial projects was in meetings Tuesday and Wednesday.
Bar Association members said they did not know how much aid JICA would withdraw from its legal and judicial services on Tuesday. Ky Tech and Suon Visal blamed each other for the internal deadlock.
“The deadlock at the bar association would be solved if Suon Visal withdrew his complaint from the Supreme Court,” Ky Tech said.
He added that if JICA “withdraws aid, then he would be regretful” as such a move would only hurt law students training under the bar.
Suon Visal, however, blamed the Appeals Court for the deadlock. “If they chose the elected president, there would be no problem,” he said. “But they chose the defeated president.”