Opposition Issues Warning to Donor Nations

A week before the quarterly meeting between donors and the government, opposition leader Sam Rainsy told aid groups Tues­day that they should not support a government with no respect for its own Constitution.

Sam Rainsy noted that the government has refused to respond to any of the 30 questions from the opposition on topics ranging from undisclosed logging contracts to the ruling party’s political domination of the nation’s courts to the failed attempts to reach true fiscal transparency.

Furthermore, since the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1991, the international community has spent about $5 billion in Cam­bodia, but the standard of living of most Cambodians has declined, Rainsy said in an e-mail message written from France.

“The fact that the billions of dollars already spent have not brought most Cambodians a better life is a powerful condemnation of the nation’s dismal and corrupt leadership,” he said.

The donor community is scheduled to meet next Wed­nes­day with the government to review how aid money has been spent.

This is the second meeting since February, when donors pledged $470 million which was contingent on government reforms.

Canadian Ambassador Nor­mand Mailhot said he had not seen Sam Rainsy’s statement, but noted it was standard practice for the donor community to ask for reform results from the government.

“That is always part of the dialogue,” Mailhot said.

Another Western diplomat disputed Sam Rainsy’s claim that the standard of living has gone down, saying that the gross domestic product has gone up in recent years.

“Depending on how you measure things, the standard of living has improved,” the diplomat said.

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