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French MP says Cambodia "no democracy"

French MP says Cambodia "no democracy"

FRANCE cannot keep giving aid to Cambodia unless the Kingdom makes improvements toward

democratization, according to French MP and former Secretary of State for Human Rights

Claude Malhuret.

Malhuret, in an interview on Radio France Internationale, said that the French and

other governments due to gather in Tokyo in July to discuss Cambodian aid "have

to wonder about the way aid has been used."

"Cambodia is certainly no more a democracy ," he said.

Malhuret said there had been a political, economic and social failure in Cambodia

which was "very serious" considering the amount of aid which have been

provided since the 1991 Paris Peace Accords.

"In 1998, elections are scheduled but it is more and more unlikely they will

take place. In any case, it is unlikely it will be a free and fair election. All

the countries that signed Paris Peace Agreements should be worried, and asking for

a return to democracy," Malhuret said.

He quoted First Prime Minister Norodom Ranariddh saying recently in Hong Kong that

problems existed with Hun Sen, the Second Prime Minister, and that Ranariddh still

hoped elections will occur in 1998.

"When the Prime Minister himself says he hopes elections will occur, it means

he fears there won't be any elections," said Malhuret.

He said that the 1993 election took place in the best possible way but that everything

changed afterward as CPP "little by little" took back the power it had

"lost."

"The CPP, who lost the election, has power in all areas - army, administration

and at the local level. Today, the opposition is muzzled, there are more and more

attacks against the press, Phnom Penh has become a major drug trafficking center

in South East Asia. The Western donor countries must be concerned. If they are not

yet aware, they will have to face the problem very soon," he said.

Malhuret noted that Rainsy's dismissal from Parliament and Sirivudh's "rigged

trial" have been maneuvers for a final takeover by "communists."

He said that it was not possible to say the truth inside Cambodia because opponents

had been muzzled, three journalists had been murdered and 12 newspapers closed down

last year.

He compared Cambodia to some Eastern Europe countries where the only solution for

opponents was to say the truth from outside of their homeland.

Malhuret said that Cambodia had been devastated and that a few people were exclusively

benefiting from timber, which was leading to rapid deforestation.

He noted that even the economic growth rate of four percent was "false."

"Most of the investors are Malaysian, Chinese or Thai and all that has been

invested flows straight out of Cambodia," he added.

French embassy officials in Phnom Penh would not comment on Malhuret's statements.

According to a French Embassy spokesman, $60 million in aid is planned for in 1996.

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