RCAF Makes Room for Funcincpec Officers

Co-Minister of Defense Tea Banh has agreed to create new deputy commander posts for Funcinpec military officers in every RCAF unit, officials said Monday.

In an agreement signed last week, Tea Banh pledged to ap­point Funcinpec officers to depu­ty commander positions in the Army, Navy and Air Force, said Funcinpec General Mean Sarin, who will receive one of the new positions.

The total number of positions to be created has not been confirmed, he said, but it is likely to be more than 100.

“We want our officers to have work and balance [in RCAF]. If we have no balance, though we are a partner in the coalition government, then how can both sides work smoothly and closely?” Mean Sarin asked.

Many Funcinpec officers were stripped of their positions after the factional fighting of 1997. No RCAF commanders are currently members of Funcinpec, and very few depu­ty commanders belong to the party.

“The second step is to ask our part­ner in the coalition government for commander positions for some regions and other areas,” Mean Sarin said.

Current commanders would not be ousted from their positions, he said. The new deputy commanders will receive an average salary of between $20 and $40 per month, he said.

Funcinpec Deputy Secretary-General Serey Kosal said the agreement is good for Cambodia.

“We need balance to work. If we do this, Cambodia will be pros­perous,” he said.

Donors have long pressed the government to shrink Cam­bo­dia’s armed forces, freeing up funds for social services, and have launched several demobilization projects.

A multi-million dollar World Bank demobilization project was suspended last year, after it de­clared misprocurement on a government motorcycle con­tract. Representatives said at the time they would wait for the new government to form before discus­sing a resumption of the project.

World Bank and other donor rep­resentatives could not be reached for comment Monday.

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