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Nationwide elections to be funded without foreign aid: premier

Cambodia has rid itself of a culture of dependency and has full resources to run the upcoming nationwide elections, the first to be fully-funded by the Cambodian government, the premier said yesterday.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Sihanoukville Port Special Economic Zone, Prime Minister Hun Sen, who has been in or near the seat of power since the fall of the Khmer Rouge, said the Kingdom was well-prepared to run the upcoming June commune elections.

“The culture of depending on foreign aid should be reduced because we need to be owned by ourselves in accordance with the sustainable practice of democracy in Cambodia,” Hun Sen said. “If there is foreign assistance, it would be good, but if not we still run the election.”

The premier said the government had approved approximately US$19 million to run the commune election in June and roughly the same amount for next year’s national election.

In 2003, in the first national elections since UNTAC, the government footed 40 per cent of the election expense bill, while donor countries fronted 60 per cent of the expense.

In the second national elections in 2008, Cambodia paid for 60 per cent of the elections and donors contributed 40 per cent of the funds, the premier said.

Hun Sen called on all armed forces and local authorities to facilitate the Kingdom’s third national elections and ensure they were free and fair.

“[I] will also appeal to [all armed forces and local authorities] to facilitate all political parties to have their election campaign in an environment of neutrality and free in order to ensure a free and fair election so that [the result of election] would be acceptable [among all],” Hun Sen said.

He also called for the 10 political parties competing in the upcoming commune elections to respect the elections laws and criticised politicians who were already organising public forums to campaign.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at sokheng.vong@phnompenhpost.com

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