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Now is not the time for change

Dear Editor,

Although one may sympathise with the views expressed by Mr Hilleary in Wednesday’s edition of The Phnom Penh Post, I think particular care needs to be taken by those within the international community truly committed to the development of democracy in Cambodia.

Withdrawal of aid at this moment could send quite the opposite message to that intended, and any shortfall in promised financial support could almost certainly be made up by a state with a different view of the way Cambodia should be governed.

It is very doubtful if the result of the election will be overturned, and maybe more reports will be issued asserting that the whole electoral process was generally free and fair.

Such dubious blessings are nothing new. Indeed, one was recently given by the head of the Southern African Development Community observer mission after the recent election in Zimbabwe.

I know many in Harare do not share his opinion, but there is little they can do except look to the next election. It may be a long haul, but perhaps, despite the frustration, this is the way that Cambodia will need to go forward too.

It should not be forgotten that, to some extent, Cambodia was in a similar position 20 years ago. There can be no suggestion today of having two prime ministers, but there are real opportunities for the kind of power sharing which leads to the appointment of ministers from each of the main parties.

The situation is delicate, but maybe the best stance real friends of the Cambodian people can take at this time is to make no changes, or threats of changes, to the aid programs already in being.

Michael Hansen
Phnom Penh

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