US Bill Promises More Aid for New Gov’t

A group of US senators urged the US Congress late last month to pass a bill that would increase foreign assistance for Cambodia by 50 percent under certain conditions, including the removal of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

According to a copy of the bill, on June 26, US Senator Mitch McConnell and several of his colleagues proposed an additional $21.5 million for Cambodia above the fiscal 2004 budget request of $43 million. The bill specifies that additional aid should be granted only if Cambodia holds a free and fair election on July 27, and Hun Sen is no longer in power.

“It has been apparent to me that Hun Sen has long been part of Cambodia’s problems—and not part of the solution,” McCon­nell writes in his introduction of the bill to the Senate.

McConnell blamed Hun Sen for the Jan 29 anti-Thai riots, which caused an estimated

$50 million in damages to Thai-owned property in Phnom Penh.

He also pinned the February killing of Funcinpec adviser Om Radsady on the CPP.

Om “Radsady’s assassination sent a not so subtle message that no one is immune from the black hand of CPP,” McConnell writes.

General Khieu Sopheak, spokes­man for the Ministry of In­terior, denied CPP involvement in either event and said the bill’s conditions were not reasonable.

“I categorically reject the stupid mind of this American senator,” Khieu Sopheak said. “I invite this stupid senator to meet the suspects [charged with Om Rad­sady’s murder] to clear his mind. I will pay for his ticket for him to come here.”

In March, two soldiers were charged in Phnom Penh Mun­icipal Court in connection with the Feb 18 slaying of Om Radsady.

“We don’t have conditions for the US government but they make conditions for us. We don’t know why,” Khieu Sopheak said. “Hun Sen is elected by the people. He is not Pol Pot.”

The bill, titled the “Cambodia Democracy and Accountability Act of 2003,” restricts assistance for a UN-supported Khmer Rouge tribunal unless the US presi­dent establishes that the tribunal is not influenced by the CPP.

 

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