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Groups Press Parties on Corruption Law

Rights groups with more than a million signatures demanding anti-corruption legislation are now pushing competing political parties for July's election on their positions.

The Coalition of Civil Society Organizations Against Corruption will ask each party for a commitment on passing an anti-corruption law that has been stalled in the draft process for years.

"Corruption in Cambodia is serious, and we note that up to now, there has been no reduction of corruption," Sek Borisoth, program officer of Pact Cambodia, told reporters Monday morning. "At the time of the election period, we take this opportunity to call for the political parties to make their promise to voters on how they will fight against corruption."

Corruption costs Cambodia an estimated $300 million and $500 million per year. Cambodia has enjoyed an economic growth rate of around 10 percent per year, but it still required $600 million from donors each year.

The Coalition said in a statement Monday that even though there is economic growth, corruption ensures only a select group benefit.

The government has promised for more than a decade to draft and pass an anti-corruption law, but it has so far failed. Donors urged the government in 2006 to adopt the law.

The draft law should only apply to the current status of members of government, Sok Samoeun, director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, told reporters Monday.

"If we had a perfect law to review the property, maybe this drafting of the law would be blocked," he said.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said Prime Minister Hun Sen had mentioned several times the importance of the law, and this is one of the political platform points of the Cambodian People's Party.

Sin Vannarith, secretary-general of the Khmer Anti-Poverty Party, said his party, if elected, would require government members to declare their assets and would push for the adoption of the anti-corruption law.