Prime Minister Hun Sen said Thursday that independent forestry monitor Global Witness would be welcome to stay in Cambodia, provided that new staff members are brought in to take the place of current staff.
“I will work with Global Witness,” Hun Sun said at a ceremony at the Royal Agriculture Institute.
“But those people whose visas are about to expire, please leave,” he said.
Earlier this month, Hun Sen attacked the group after it released a report in late January accusing some forestry officials of collaborating with illegal loggers.
Hun Sen said Global Witness, which issued its report in late January just ahead of an international donor’s meeting, was leading a politically motivated campaign against him and threatened to expel it from the country.
Hun Sen on Thursday accused Global Witness of recruiting Thai soldiers to buy illegal timber on the border in an effort to discredit him.
Hun Sen said the group was waging a campaign to have him make good on earlier promises to step down if he did not halt illegal logging.
“I know now through my investigation that [Global Witness] had a meeting in Bangkok and then assigned Thai soldiers to buy logs along the border,” he said.
Global Witness is scheduled to meet today with officials from the Asian Development Bank and the Ministry of Agriculture’s Department of Forestry and Wildlife.