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Anti-Corruption Law Moves Ahead

A widely anticipated anti-corruption law will be passed next month, Prime Minister Hun Sen announced Tuesday.

The law, which has been in draft stage for more than 10 years, must be passed by Dec. 11, Hun Sen said.

Donors have been pushing for the law for years, threatening to withdraw funding and aid if the government did not move forward with its passage, and civic groups and government critics say it is long overdue.

Transparency International this year ranked Cambodia 158th of 180 countries, just above Laos and Burma, and the US estimates the country loses as much as $500 million a year to corruption.

Hun Sen said Tuesday that now that a modern penal code has been passed, the anti-corruption law would be considered.

"I officially announce that the anti-corruption law will not be delayed anymore,” he said. “Within this year, the Cabinet will pass the long-awaited anti-corruption law.”

The announcement was welcomed by opposition officials and others who see corruption as a main impediment to the country’s development, at a time when land disputes and social injustices have drawn heavy government criticism.

“I wish what Hun Sen announced could come sooner,” said Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party. “Cambodians have suffered from corruption and injustice for a long time.”

Kem Sokha, president of the Human Rights Party, welcomed the announcement, but cautioned, “it has not reached the end yet.”