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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Head sacrificed to assure donor funds, says Mouly

Head sacrificed to assure donor funds, says Mouly

Head sacrificed to assure donor funds, says Mouly

A THREAT to future international donor funding for the Cambodian Mine Action

Center (CMAC) prompted Wednesday's announced removal of CMAC Director General

Sam Sotha from his post.

"We feel the need for responsibility [for

CMAC's problems] to be taken ... to be responsible to the requests and concerns

of donors," Ieng Mouly, Chairman of CMAC's Governing Council, told the Post on

Wednesday.

"If we wait for the completion of the [second KPMG] audit, it

will take us to September which will put some donors in a difficult position to

contribute funds because it comes at the end of their fiscal

year."

However, Mouly made it clear that Sotha was getting what he

deserved. "After what has happened at CMAC, whether or not the Director General

has been directly or indirectly involved, he's overall responsible for the whole

of CMAC," Mouly said.

Mouly stopped short of confirming long-rumored

allegations that Sotha has illegally misappropriated CMAC funds. "I have to be

cautious," he said in response whether he believed Sotha was guilty of illegal

behavior. "I haven't got the final [KPMG audit] report yet."

While

insisting that he was not bitter, Sotha suggested to the Post on Wednesday that

certain donor countries had ulterior motives for wanting him fired .

"I

don't blame anyone...but one or two [donors] have their own political [agenda],"

he said in reference to donor pressure to have him replaced.

Sotha was

equally enigmatic when asked whether his removal was the endgame in a

long-rumored internal power struggle between himself and Ieng Mouly for control

of CMAC.

"I just want to say that I don't confirm that we had a power

struggle," Sotha said, refusing to elaborate.

In reference to evidence

from both a Ministry of Finance and a KPMG audit of Royal Government funding for

CMAC that he had misappropriated funds, Sotha insisted the problem was rooted

more in high public expectations of CMAC than actual wrongdoing on his

part.

"I still don't see [that I've made] big mistakes," he explained.

"I've committed something good 90% [of the time], but 10% [has been] bad ... but

people expect CMAC to be good 100% [of the time].

Sotha routed

expectations that he would fade from the public scene after departing CMAC next

week by confirming rumors that he was to become an official advisor to Prime

Minister Hun Sen.

"The Prime Minister will bring me closer to him," he

said happily. "I can advise on demining and contribute more [in my new

position]."

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