Economic development and national security were major agenda when the State of Cambodia's
(SOC) 24th National Assembly opened in Phnom Penh Jan. 25.
Focusing on financial matters, the Assembly was due to discuss the implementation
of the Council of Ministers' 1993 national budget proposals. Though the budget had
yet to be approved, SOC spokesman Khieu Kanharith forecast a deficit in excess of
R 100 billion for the year.
Kanharith reported that CPP Chairman Chea Sim condemned, in his opening speech, the
attempts of "the Khmer Rouge to obstruct economic assistance to Cambodia during
the transitional period."
The Khmer Rouge previously objected to Prince Sihanouk's signing of a combined IMF,
World Bank and Asian Development Bank loan package (worth U. S. $150 million), saying
any financial assistance would help boost SOC's popularity. The other two factions
argued that a new government should be in place before the loans were underwritten.
SOC countered with accusations that the rival factions were putting politics above
the interests of the people and threatening aid that was vital to the country.
In his speech, Chea Sim said the country is encountering the food shortages of 257,000
Apart from 1% of the proposed loans destined for emergency fertilizer aid, UNTAC
rehabilitation component confirmed that 99% of the loans were not going to come on
stream until after the elections.
Speaking to reporters during a break in the session, Kanharith commented on the relationship
between state and party property saying "Until now we've not made a real distinction
between state and party property. Now we will adopt such a law."
Given SOC's monopolization of power over the past 14 years, the distinction was often
non-existent or, at best, blurred. This led to a chorus of criticism from all three
rival factions that SOC has been selling off state property for either party or personal
Addressing the session on the issue of national security in light of the current
wave of politically motivated violence, the National Assembly President called on
the local authorities to "take all necessary measures to protect offices of
political parties ... to thwart all forms of criminal activity and to safeguard public
security." Although there are accusations of SOC involvement in the spate of
recent attacks on FUNCINPEC and other party offices, Chea Sim accused the Khmer Rouge
of "terrorist and sabotage activities."
He stated that the Khmer Rouge's refusal to comply with phase two of the peace agreement
has brought "tragic consequences to Cambodian society." He said the State
of Cambodia is trying its best to protect the political environment, security, stability
and safety in the society.
"The Khmer Rouge and some other political parties are attempting to pollute
and stir up an uncontrolled violent situation and put the blame on the State of Cambodia
which is the host party...," stated Chea Sim.