A group of parliamentarians harshly criticized Cambodian Mine Action Center Chair Ieng Mouly, publicly calling for his removal because of his alleged role in the agency’s scandals.
“It is time for you to make your resignation to build better confidence for CMAC,” said Funcinpec National Assembly member Nan Sy.
After months of requests, primarily by opposition leader Sam Rainsy, Ieng Mouly was brought before the Assembly Thursday to explain problems that have damaged the agency’s reputation and left it facing a money shortage.
“The budget management at CMAC is seriously deficient. A handful of leaders at this national institution are very corrupt and exploiting a work force of thousands,” Sam Rainsy said. “If I were chief of an institution like [Ieng Mouly], I would be greatly ashamed of this scandal. CMAC won’t work with you there.”
Sam Rainsy has several times in the past called for the removal of Ieng Mouly, who on Thursday would only acknowledge some budget irregularities but generally deflected most of the criticism.
Ieng Mouly has maintained that most of the blame for what happened at CMAC should be placed on former Director-General Sam Sotha, who he said was in charge of the agency’s day-to-day operations.
Sam Sotha was fired in August at the urging of donors, who either froze or withdrew funding after agencywide financial mismanagement was revealed.
“It’s not my responsibility for some of the problems that happened,” Ieng Mouly told lawmakers. “As director of CMAC’s governing council I do not have that much power like the director general. My power is just to call meetings and give suggestions.”
But several lawmakers said they believed Ieng Mouly was also involved in the fraud alleged by both some CMAC staff and donors and again said they wanted him to step down.
“The CMAC scandal has ruined the reputation of Cambodia and Excellency Ieng Mouly must be held responsible for this problem,” Nan Sy said.
While the most recent CMAC audit—detailing the agency’s use of donor funds—found no evidence of financial misuse, it did chronicle what have been called by auditors “seriously deficient” management practices.
Included in those criticisms are failures to keep any sort of financial record books or track purchases of material. CMAC’s hiring and promotion processes were also questioned and auditors noted that little follow-up has been completed to the recommendations made in the audit.
Though an aggressive reform plan was started in August under the leadership of new CMAC Director-General Khem Sophoan, some agency officials and donors remain skeptical that these measures will be completed, especially following the limited release of some previously withheld donor funds.