Japan May Withdraw Aid from Bar Association

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.”

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