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Cambodia Passes Military Draft Law

Cambodia's national assembly has voted on Wednesday to introduce a military draft bill. The conscription makes it mandatory for young men and women between 18 and 30 years to serve 18 months in the military.

About half of Cambodia's population is currently under 18 years old.

A government spokesman said conscription was an important way of reinforcing the army.

In an interview with BBC, opposition leader Sam Rainsy warned that the new law would help the government hide one of its major failures - unemployment.

Sam Rainsy said that, “every year, around 300, 000 young people the age of 18 and cannot find jobs”, and because of this they are in some way forced to join the army.

Defense Minister, Tea Banh commended the passing of the bill, and says that Cambodia can increase its military capacity up to 2,000 people.

Cambodia Center for Human Rights (CCHR) does not support the new conscription, saying that this might have a negative impact for people in poverty.

Click on the audio link above to listen to Yim Sovann, opposition party lawmaker answers questions from 'Hello VOA' callers about Cambodian military conscription.