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Friday, 21 June, 2002, 11:28 GMT 12:28 UK
Cambodia granted $635m to reform
Cambodian peasants and farmers during a demonstration by the opposition
Cambodia's poor insist the aid benefits them
International aid donors have pledged $635m to Cambodia for the next year, exceeding the hopes of the Cambodian Government.

The aid, which is the equivalent of about half the government's annual budget, was granted despite donors' complaints that they have seen little progress on reform.

Donors stressed on Friday that their continued support of Cambodia depended on "substantive progress" in this sphere, including an overhaul of the country's judiciary.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen has claimed that it is impossible to successfully set up a trial of former Khmer Rouge leaders without extra money.

Khmer Rouge trials

His government had asked for $1.46bn for the next three years - or $486m annually - during a three-day donors' conference in the Cambodian capital, Phnom Penh.

He told delegates from about 20 nations and institutions on Thursday that Cambodia was "fully and unequivocally committed" to pursuing justice for the estimated 1.7 million people who died under the1976-79 Marxist regime of the Khmer Rouge.

Negotiations between Cambodia and the United Nations to set up an international tribunal broke down in February after UN officials said they were concerned the planned hearings would not meet international standards of justice.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen
Hun Sen has yet to set up a trial of Khmer Rouge leaders
Hun Sen on Thursday said there was still hope for UN involvement in a future trial and asked donors for "understanding and tolerance" - as well as money.

"Your excellencies will surely agree that the work to rebuild the legal and judicial system is titanic. To succeed, it will require colossal administrative capacity and resources," he told donors.

Donors have made a list of demands, including a crackdown on corruption, political violence and human trafficking.

And the US delegation said on Friday that future aid would also depend on whether general elections next year were free and fair.

Poverty line

Cambodia is one of the world's poorest countries, with more than a third of its 12 million people living on less than $1 a day.

Its major donors are the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the International Monetary Fund, Japan and France.

Following the UN decision to pull out of the Khmer Rouge talks, Cambodia has not yet announced whether it will proceed with trials without UN involvement.

Hun Sen has for years pledged to try Khmer Rouge leaders for their "killing fields" regime but no-one has appeared in court.

See also:

09 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
16 Nov 01 | Asia-Pacific
10 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
07 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
02 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
14 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
02 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
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