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Opposition Underscores Reforms for Donors

Cambodia is facing increasing difficulties from the global financial crisis and an erosion of democratic principals, two opposition parties said Wednesday, producing a list of critiques for donors to consider ahead of an annual meeting Thursday.

The National Assembly minority, consisting of the Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties, urged donors to consider four points ahead of the meeting: parliamentary reforms, the adoption of a long-awaited anti-corruption law, local governance and “problems of decentralization,” and the implementation of the land law.

“The high-level meetings between the Royal Government of Cambodia and its development partners…comes at a very critical moment, as Cambodia, like other countries in the world, is facing the impact of the world economic crisis,” the minority parties said. “This [donor meeting] also comes at a time when democracy in Cambodia is further eroding, following the 2008 parliamentary election, much criticized by local and international observers for falling short of international standards.”

The annual Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum, where aid is discussed and pledged, begins Thursday, and Cambodia is expected to seek around $500 million in aid. The government received $690 million in 2007.

Speaking to a government meeting on finance reform on Wednesday night, Prime Minister Hun Sen highlighted four points of his own: the governments commitment to “sustainable peace, political stability, security and social order;… long-term sustainable economic growth;… equitable distribution of opportunities and fruits of economic growth; [and] environmental sustainability.”