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UPDATED: 20:14, June 19, 2007
Cambodia pleases donor countries with anti-corruption oaths
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Cambodia here on Tuesday opened its annual donor countries' meeting, with its prime minister Hun Sen repeatedly vowing to fight corruption at any cost to safeguard these donors' confidence in his government.

"We have always fight corruption with concrete measures and the government is determined to adopt anti-corruption laws as soon as possible," he told more than 100 representatives of donor countries and NGOs and top governmental officials at the two-day First Cambodian Development Cooperation Forum (CDCF).

In addition, Hun Sen even promised to hand over his personal properties to the new government, if his Cambodian People's Party (CPP) fails to win the next general election, apparently in effort to counter the wide-spread allegations that the current CPP government is too corrupt to stay in power in 2008.

"CPP has already appointed me as premier candidate for the general election in 2008, and if CPP fails, I will sign to hand over the properties (of mine) and all the official documents to the new government," he said.

Hun Sen made these remarks at the forum for the Cambodian government, its development cooperation partners and the civil society to dialogue on public policy issues and the associated financing framework on medium term, namely the annual meeting for the donor countries to help the government offset its budget.

While official figures showed that the donors pledged 601 million U.S. dollars in aid for Cambodia in 2006, almost half of its government budget, the kingdom still cherished much higher expectation this year due to its confirmation of rich reserves of oil and natural gas.

However, in recent days, NGOs have verbally attacked the government for corruption, in order to provide tools for the deputies of 18 donor countries and five NGOs at CDCF to press for anti-corruption efforts and contain donations.

At Tuesday's forum, to appease the donors, Hun Sen described corruption as "cancer of the society" and vowed to fight it with real actions.

"Even we don't have anti-corruption law yet, we take strict actions to fight corrupt officials," he said, adding that the government has already established its committee to handle the work.

Recently, he said, seven government officials were punished over illegal logging, two arrested and put into jail for seizing private properties, one accused of conspiracy in state land grabbing and destroying forestry, one another accused of destroying natural resources and ruining the environment, and 11 others jailed over cutting forestry illegally in Ratanakiri province.

Meanwhile, the premier told the representatives that his party is set to win the next election, obviously trying to fuel their confidence in CPP and its continued governance.

According to the law, any political party who wins 50 percent of the votes at the National Assembly plus one more vote can establish the government, he said.

"Now Cambodia has about 60 political parties. If CPP wins the next general election, I will continue to lead the country as premier," he said.

The 50 percent plus one rule can guarantee that no more political deadlock will occur in Cambodia, he added.

Hun Sen has been country leader since 1985 and transformed Cambodia from a war-torn land into a kingdom with macro economic stability for over 10 years.

According to the government's report, between 1994 and 2006, the average annual economic growth rate of Cambodia was 9.8 percent. In 2005 and 2006, the rates respectively stood at 13.4 percent and 10.4 percent.

Source: Xinhua

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