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All eyes on ICORC meet

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All eyes on ICORC meet

The financial reviews and pledges of the March 13-15 ICORC donor conference so vital to Cambodia could be relegated to a Parisian sideshow by a recent swirl of high-profile political events.

Last year Cambodia triumphed at ICORC, getting pledges of nearly $900 million, and this year - the third since the UNTAC-sponsored elections - it is after $295 million.

However, aid donors due to assess Cambodia's democratic progress this year are just as likely to be distracted by the sensitive political and financial policy issues as the international media will be.

Newspaper editor Chan Rottana - now facing a year in jail - and maverick MP Sam Rainsy - who has virtually been accused of economic treason - will both be in Paris.

Amnesty International will release a blistering condemnation of the government's human rights record on the day the conference proper begins, which has been obtained by the Post.

Rainsy, voted the country's second most popular politician in a poll last week, unveiled a series of accusations of corruption and malfeasance against the government.

Hun Sen steals show at corruption forum

"So what is this conference all about?" asked a former cabinet minister over breakfast. He was told it was about corruption.

"What... how to do it better?"

His reply might have been a bit cynical but within 20 minutes of this brief exchange the Preah Raj Sihanouk Academy's Conference on Corruption opened - with a whimper.

The first blow was the "no-show" of opening key-note First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

The second was MP Sam Rainsy, who presented a stinging nine-page private report on corruption allegations just two hours after the March 2 conference began.

The conference was saved by a virtuoso, impassioned closing by Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Hun Sen spoke for more than 90 minutes, delivering the sort of message that ICORC donors will now expect to hear in Paris from March 13.

Hun Sen said that corruption and human rights questions were not alone a Cambodian problem, especially within a new administration.

Hun Sen thanked the governments of Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand for sending their "graft-busting" experts to the conference.

"Cambodia is not the No. 1 country for corruption," he said, though that did not mean Cambodia did not to move to eliminate it. "Corruption is a phenomenon that happens in every country."

He offered concessions, among them an agreement to debate an anti-corruption law and asset declarations by high officials. Hun Sen also said he wanted a "strong" press, though this seemed short of hinting his consent to drop the criminal charges in the draft Press Law, which would have softened to some small extent the unpalatable sentencing of a newspaper editor just days earlier.

But he gave a clear warning that should ICORC donors listen to Rainsy - whom he all but said was a traitor, whose claims were "politically motivated" and "against the Nation" - and squeeze aid money, then Cambodia would slide back into its dark history. He even mentioned Somalia as an example.

"There is an appeal to the international community not to help Cambodia ... saying that (this) government is a professional thief."

"I think that is too much ... I'm not scared to speak to the US ambassador," Hun Sen said, adding that Cambodia had worked closely "as partners" with the International Monetary Fund on Cambodia's economic blueprint.

Party congress will look to provinces

After more than a year searching for a place of influence in the coalition government, Funcinpec is now turning its attention to strengthening its foundation before the next election.

In an interview with the Post, Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh admitted the party's substructure remained weak.

This fact has prompted executives to call up to 3,000 party members - from the national, provincial, district and sub-district levels - to meet for its first-ever party congress in May or June.

Although the next election is three years away, Sirivudh said the congress would aim to redefine its strategy and goals for the 1998 vote.

"We would like to see what is Funcinpec in 1997 and what will be our new identity to face the 1998 election," he said.

He conceded the Royalist party has suffered from a lack of experience in running the administration since it joined the coalition with the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) in 1993.

Fighting continues in Battambang

Khmer Rouge rebels in the past fortnight have continued to launch regular attacks around Battambang - reportedly shelling rockets into the provincial town - killing two civilians and injuring another two.

Battambang's police commander General Van Chhunly said: "At around 12:40 am in the morning of March 5, a band of about twenty KR came as close as ten kms south from the provincial capital in Sangke district."

"They came in the district quietly carrying with them 107 mm shells," Chhunly said.

He said the guerrillas launched seven rockets into the town but only three of them exploded, destroying one house.

Lao military agree to leave Cambodian soil

Laotian military has promised to leave Cambodian territory after recent negotiations between provincial governors on both sides of the border, according to a Ministry of Defense official.

The governor of Cham Pasak, Laos, agreed with his Stung Treng counterpart to have Laotian military checkpoints withdraw from their base in Siem Pang district, two to four kms inside Cambodia, said the officer, who would not be named.

All eyes on ICORC meet

The financial reviews and pledges of the March 13-15 ICORC donor conference so vital to Cambodia could be relegated to a Parisian sideshow by a recent swirl of high-profile political events.

Last year Cambodia triumphed at ICORC, getting pledges of nearly $900 million, and this year - the third since the UNTAC-sponsored elections - it is after $295 million.

However, aid donors due to assess Cambodia's democratic progress this year are just as likely to be distracted by the sensitive political and financial policy issues as the international media will be.

Newspaper editor Chan Rottana - now facing a year in jail - and maverick MP Sam Rainsy - who has virtually been accused of economic treason - will both be in Paris.

Amnesty International will release a blistering condemnation of the government's human rights record on the day the conference proper begins, which has been obtained by the Post.

Rainsy, voted the country's second most popular politician in a poll last week, unveiled a series of accusations of corruption and malfeasance against the government.

Hun Sen steals show at corruption forum

"So what is this conference all about?" asked a former cabinet minister over breakfast. He was told it was about corruption.

"What... how to do it better?"

His reply might have been a bit cynical but within 20 minutes of this brief exchange the Preah Raj Sihanouk Academy's Conference on Corruption opened - with a whimper.

The first blow was the "no-show" of opening key-note First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

The second was MP Sam Rainsy, who presented a stinging nine-page private report on corruption allegations just two hours after the March 2 conference began.

The conference was saved by a virtuoso, impassioned closing by Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Hun Sen spoke for more than 90 minutes, delivering the sort of message that ICORC donors will now expect to hear in Paris from March 13.

Hun Sen said that corruption and human rights questions were not alone a Cambodian problem, especially within a new administration.

Hun Sen thanked the governments of Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand for sending their "graft-busting" experts to the conference.

"Cambodia is not the No. 1 country for corruption," he said, though that did not mean Cambodia did not to move to eliminate it. "Corruption is a phenomenon that happens in every country."

He offered concessions, among them an agreement to debate an anti-corruption law and asset declarations by high officials. Hun Sen also said he wanted a "strong" press, though this seemed short of hinting his consent to drop the criminal charges in the draft Press Law, which would have softened to some small extent the unpalatable sentencing of a newspaper editor just days earlier.

But he gave a clear warning that should ICORC donors listen to Rainsy - whom he all but said was a traitor, whose claims were "politically motivated" and "against the Nation" - and squeeze aid money, then Cambodia would slide back into its dark history. He even mentioned Somalia as an example.

"There is an appeal to the international community not to help Cambodia ... saying that (this) government is a professional thief."

"I think that is too much ... I'm not scared to speak to the US ambassador," Hun Sen said, adding that Cambodia had worked closely "as partners" with the International Monetary Fund on Cambodia's economic blueprint.

Party congress will look to provinces

After more than a year searching for a place of influence in the coalition government, Funcinpec is now turning its attention to strengthening its foundation before the next election.

In an interview with the Post, Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh admitted the party's substructure remained weak.

This fact has prompted executives to call up to 3,000 party members - from the national, provincial, district and sub-district levels - to meet for its first-ever party congress in May or June.

Although the next election is three years away, Sirivudh said the congress would aim to redefine its strategy and goals for the 1998 vote.

"We would like to see what is Funcinpec in 1997 and what will be our new identity to face the 1998 election," he said.

He conceded the Royalist party has suffered from a lack of experience in running the administration since it joined the coalition with the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) in 1993.

Fighting continues in Battambang

Khmer Rouge rebels in the past fortnight have continued to launch regular attacks around Battambang - reportedly shelling rockets into the provincial town - killing two civilians and injuring another two.

Battambang's police commander General Van Chhunly said: "At around 12:40 am in the morning of March 5, a band of about twenty KR came as close as ten kms south from the provincial capital in Sangke district."

"They came in the district quietly carrying with them 107 mm shells," Chhunly said.

He said the guerrillas launched seven rockets into the town but only three of them exploded, destroying one house.

Lao military agree to leave Cambodian soil

Laotian military has promised to leave Cambodian territory after recent negotiations between provincial governors on both sides of the border, according to a Ministry of Defense official.

The governor of Cham Pasak, Laos, agreed with his Stung Treng counterpart to have Laotian military checkpoints withdraw from their base in Siem Pang district, two to four kms inside Cambodia, said the officer, who would not be named.

All eyes on ICORC meet

The financial reviews and pledges of the March 13-15 ICORC donor conference so vital to Cambodia could be relegated to a Parisian sideshow by a recent swirl of high-profile political events.

Last year Cambodia triumphed at ICORC, getting pledges of nearly $900 million, and this year - the third since the UNTAC-sponsored elections - it is after $295 million.

However, aid donors due to assess Cambodia's democratic progress this year are just as likely to be distracted by the sensitive political and financial policy issues as the international media will be.

Newspaper editor Chan Rottana - now facing a year in jail - and maverick MP Sam Rainsy - who has virtually been accused of economic treason - will both be in Paris.

Amnesty International will release a blistering condemnation of the government's human rights record on the day the conference proper begins, which has been obtained by the Post.

Rainsy, voted the country's second most popular politician in a poll last week, unveiled a series of accusations of corruption and malfeasance against the government.

Hun Sen steals show at corruption forum

"So what is this conference all about?" asked a former cabinet minister over breakfast. He was told it was about corruption.

"What... how to do it better?"

His reply might have been a bit cynical but within 20 minutes of this brief exchange the Preah Raj Sihanouk Academy's Conference on Corruption opened - with a whimper.

The first blow was the "no-show" of opening key-note First Prime Minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh.

The second was MP Sam Rainsy, who presented a stinging nine-page private report on corruption allegations just two hours after the March 2 conference began.

The conference was saved by a virtuoso, impassioned closing by Second Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Hun Sen spoke for more than 90 minutes, delivering the sort of message that ICORC donors will now expect to hear in Paris from March 13.

Hun Sen said that corruption and human rights questions were not alone a Cambodian problem, especially within a new administration.

Hun Sen thanked the governments of Malaysia, Hong Kong and Thailand for sending their "graft-busting" experts to the conference.

"Cambodia is not the No. 1 country for corruption," he said, though that did not mean Cambodia did not to move to eliminate it. "Corruption is a phenomenon that happens in every country."

He offered concessions, among them an agreement to debate an anti-corruption law and asset declarations by high officials. Hun Sen also said he wanted a "strong" press, though this seemed short of hinting his consent to drop the criminal charges in the draft Press Law, which would have softened to some small extent the unpalatable sentencing of a newspaper editor just days earlier.

But he gave a clear warning that should ICORC donors listen to Rainsy - whom he all but said was a traitor, whose claims were "politically motivated" and "against the Nation" - and squeeze aid money, then Cambodia would slide back into its dark history. He even mentioned Somalia as an example.

"There is an appeal to the international community not to help Cambodia ... saying that (this) government is a professional thief."

"I think that is too much ... I'm not scared to speak to the US ambassador," Hun Sen said, adding that Cambodia had worked closely "as partners" with the International Monetary Fund on Cambodia's economic blueprint.

Party congress will look to provinces

After more than a year searching for a place of influence in the coalition government, Funcinpec is now turning its attention to strengthening its foundation before the next election.

In an interview with the Post, Funcinpec Secretary-General Prince Norodom Sirivudh admitted the party's substructure remained weak.

This fact has prompted executives to call up to 3,000 party members - from the national, provincial, district and sub-district levels - to meet for its first-ever party congress in May or June.

Although the next election is three years away, Sirivudh said the congress would aim to redefine its strategy and goals for the 1998 vote.

"We would like to see what is Funcinpec in 1997 and what will be our new identity to face the 1998 election," he said.

He conceded the Royalist party has suffered from a lack of experience in running the administration since it joined the coalition with the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) in 1993.

Fighting continues in Battambang

Khmer Rouge rebels in the past fortnight have continued to launch regular attacks around Battambang - reportedly shelling rockets into the provincial town - killing two civilians and injuring another two.

Battambang's police commander General Van Chhunly said: "At around 12:40 am in the morning of March 5, a band of about twenty KR came as close as ten kms south from the provincial capital in Sangke district."

"They came in the district quietly carrying with them 107 mm shells," Chhunly said.

He said the guerrillas launched seven rockets into the town but only three of them exploded, destroying one house.

Lao military agree to leave Cambodian soil

Laotian military has promised to leave Cambodian territory after recent negotiations between provincial governors on both sides of the border, according to a Ministry of Defense official.

The governor of Cham Pasak, Laos, agreed with his Stung Treng counterpart to have Laotian military checkpoints withdraw from their base in Siem Pang district, two to four kms inside Cambodia, said the officer, who would not be named.

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