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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Canada spikes Longmuir posting

Canada spikes Longmuir posting

G ordon Longmuir, the former Canadian Ambassador to Cambodia, has been dropped from

a Canadian-government funded project to assist the National Assembly due to concerns

about alleged political bias and disregard for human rights during his 1996-1999

tenure.

Longmuir had been selected as the in-country Field Director of a five-year, $3.25

million dollar Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) Legislative Support

Project executed by the Parliamentary Center, an Ottawa-based NGO.

Neither Longmuir nor Bob Miller, Parliamentary Centre Executive Director, responded

to Post enquiries about Longmuir's dismissal.

CIDA officials in Bangkok confirmed that Longmuir had lost the job.

"I do not know why Gordon is not being considered [for continuing in the position],"

Nipa Banerjee, CIDA's Head of Aid for Thailand, Cambodia and Laos, told the Post

by email. "It is possible he is not interested. It is also possible that on

the basis of their findings, the Parliamentary Center decided that...they would require

a person with a different profile than Gordon."

Longmuir's appointment had attracted criticism from opposition legislators, former

diplomats and Cambodian human rights workers who alleged that as Canadian Ambassador

Longmuir had turned a blind eye to human rights abuses in the wake of the 1997 coup

and had adopted a blatant anti-opposition bias that undermined his diplomatic credibility.

A Phnom Penh-based source close to the CIDA project said that allegations raised

in an April 13-26 Post article about the controversy had seriously embarrassed CIDA

and the Parliamentary Centre and forced them to take drastic action.

"The Ottawa-based CIDA personnel were familiar with Gordon from his term as

ambassador here and hadn't supported his hiring by the Parliamentary Centre from

the beginning," the source said. "After the [Post ] article came out Bill

Miller was forced to talk to some of the people who voiced concerns about Gordon."

The issue has also taken a toll on Ottawa-based CIDA personnel who initially approved

Long-muir's hiring.

Liane Sauer, who admitted during a Post interview that she had been aware of concerns

about Longmuir's involvement with the project but refused to clarify whether she

had made her CIDA superiors aware of the controversy, has, according to Banerjee,

left CIDA "of her own volition".

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