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Deminers to Africa: PM

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Hun Sen confirms Cambodian deminers and peacekeepers will be deployed to Africa but departure date unknown.

Photo by:

Tracey Shelton

Cambodian deminers before leaving for Sudan.  

PRIME Minister Hun Sen said Tuesday that Cambodia would dispatch more than 400 deminers and peacekeepers to Chad and the Central African Republic as part of an ongoing United Nations peacekeeping mission.

Speaking Tuesday during a graduation ceremony at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh, Hun Sen said he made the decision to dispatch the deminers and peacekeepers two weeks ago, adding that they had been requested by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. He did not say when or for how long they would be deployed.

The mission, approved in September 2007, is "a multidimensional presence intended to help create the security conditions conducive to a voluntary, secure and sustainable return of refugees and displaced persons" in the central African countries, according to the UN's website devoted to peacekeeping operations.   

Hun Sen said Cambodia's ability to contribute deminers and peacekeepers to the UN mission was evidence of its political and social stability.

His remarks were an apparent reference to a report released Friday by the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) that rated Cambodia as one of the countries most at risk of suffering serious social unrest as the glocal economic crisis  escalates. Cambodia was tied for fourth with Sudan, making it more stable than Zimbabwe, Chad and the Democratic Republic of Congo but less stable than Iraq and Afghanistan.

"This comment is unreliable, saying that political risk in Cambodia is worse than Afghanistan and Iraq when they have been fighting each other and dying every day," Hun Sen said. "This prediction would affect their prestige."

He did not reference the EIU report directly.

Cambodia has despatched deminers to Sudan as part of UN peacekeeping missions since 2006.

Prak Sokhon, a secretary of state at the Council of Ministers, told the Post Tuesday that Cambodia had prepared 270 deminers and 150 peacekeepers for deployment.

"We have prepared this number, but we have not decided how many troops to despatch," he said. "It is up to the United Nations."  

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