Former Cambodian Mine Action Center director-general Sam Sotha has been appointed as Prime Minister Hun Sen’s adviser on CMAC affairs and land mine victim assistance.
Sam Sotha has the same level of authority as a secretary of state, according to a Royal decree issued Aug 31, and will operate independently of any of the government’s ministries.
At a party Saturday afternoon, Sam Sotha said he wants to create a national organization for land mine victims.
“This is the most underrepresented group of people in Cambodia,” Sam Sotha said at the gathering of some 75 people at his home in Tuol Kok district.
Sam Sotha was responsible for the day-to-day operations of CMAC for four years before being fired in August.
An audit of the government’s CMAC funding revealed wide-spread financial mismanagement and misallocation of money, and Sam Sotha was blamed for many of the agency’s shortcomings.
Sam Sotha continues to defend his record—pointing to CMAC’s expansion in four years as evidence of the agency’s progress under his leadership.
He said last week that he has been unfairly blamed for financial problems within CMAC, which have shaken the confidence of donor nations who contribute as much as 90 percent of the agency’s budget.
Three donor nations have suspended their funding to CMAC and several others are cautiously awaiting the results of an audit to be released in mid-September.
Sam Sotha has instead placed some of the blame on the UN Development Program, which acts as an adviser to CMAC and oversees a trust fund from which the agency draws most of its money.
In both interviews and an exit report written for Hun Sen, Sam Sotha has suggested the UNDP should have less of a role in CMAC and has criticized the prominent UN agency for not shouldering more of the blame as CMAC slid deeper into scandal since April.
UNDP resident representative Dominique McAdams acknowledged last week that the UNDP’s top CMAC adviser Richard Warren will be replaced at the end of October and the UNDP will be re-evaluating its role in regards to CMAC.