Cambodia threatens to expel senior U.N. official

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mon Mar 22, 2010
By Prak Chan Thul

PHNOM PENH (Reuters) - The Cambodian government has threatened to expel a senior United Nations official, accusing him of interfering in Cambodian politics.

Cambodia's foreign ministry expressed concern over comments by U.N. Resident Coordinator Douglas Broderick, who urged more public debate on an anti-corruption bill to safeguard the rights of Cambodians and to meet international standards.

The comments were a "flagrant and unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of Cambodia", Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong wrote in a letter to Broderick on Saturday.

If they were repeated, Broderick would be expelled, said the letter, seen by Reuters on Monday.

U.N. spokeswoman Margaret Lamb declined to comment.

Cambodia's National Assembly, dominated by the ruling People's Party, voted in favour of the long-awaited bill on March 11 despite calls from the United Nations and civil society groups to postpone the vote so the public could be consulted.

Opposition lawmakers walked out in protest at what they said was a law that lacked transparency and would deter individuals from reporting corruption, rife in Cambodia where payment of bribes is part and parcel of doing business.

"To its knowledge, no draft law has been shared with interested stakeholders, including civil society, since 2006," Broderick, head of the U.N. Country Team in Cambodia, said in a statement to media on March 10.

Cambodia's foreign ministry said Broderick was acting without direction from the U.N. Secretary General in New York and the U.N. Country Team had exceeded the limit of its mandate.

Graft watchdog Transparency International last year ranked Cambodia 158th out of 180 countries in terms of corruption, with a low ranking denoting high instances of graft.

(Editing by Jason Szep and Jerry Norton)


Post a Comment