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Australian assistance for the Cambodian Election



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MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

FA45 20 April 1998

AUSTRALIAN ASSISTANCE FOR THE CAMBODIAN ELECTIONS

I am pleased to announce that Australia is providing a further $750,000 to assist the Cambodian Government put in place technical arrangements for the national elections in July this year. This decision was made following the Friends of Cambodia Meeting held in Bangkok on 19 April in which Australia participated.

The Australian Government welcomes the Communique issued by the Friends of Cambodia Meeting on the forthcoming elections. The elections will be the first to take place under Cambodia’s full sovereign control since the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1991. Free, fair and credible elections are a vital step in the restoration of peace and stability in

Cambodia.

Provision of electoral assistance was a priority issue considered by the Friends of Cambodia Group, including Australia, at its meeting in Bangkok yesterday. The Friends emphasised that they remained committed to the provision of electoral assistance to Cambodia. They made clear too, their expectation that the Cambodian Government would ensure conditions for free,

fair and credible elections so that this assistance could be continued. In particular, the Friends urged that all parties be given the opportunity to participate in those elections and that they have access to the media.

The Friends expressed particular concern about the human rights situation in Cambodia, especially the occurrence of extra-judicial killings. They urged the Cambodian authorities to investigate these killings as a matter of urgency and bring those found responsible for such abuses to justice through proper legal procedures. The Friends also welcomed the United Nations role in coordinating international observers for the elections in Cambodia to which

the Australian Government intends to make a contribution.

Australia is providing a total of $1.35 million to assist Cambodia prepare for the elections, including $600,000 already pledged. The assistance will be provided under Australia’s official aid program, managed by AusAID.

The extra $750,000 pledged today will:

- help establish and operate the National Computer Centre in Phnom Penh, which will be the electronic data centre for the elections; and

- assist the United Nations to monitor the safe return to Cambodia of political exiles.

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Media releases o nd soeeahes are available from DFAT via the internet. httoVAw/v.'.dfat.aov au /

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This funding builds on previous technical assistance which Australia has provided through the Australian Electoral Commission and the United Nations.

The Australian Government was instrumental in establishing the "Friends of Cambodia" group, which with ASEAN, has been effective and active in encouraging the Cambodians to hold free, fair and credible elections. Australia, and other members of the Friends Group, is committed to sustaining that role in the lead up to the elections scheduled for 26 July and will meet again in the run up to the elections.

Media contacts: Innes Willox (Minister’s Office) (02) 6277 7500 or 0411 414 695 Michelle Hardy (AusAID) (02) 6206 4966 or 0417 680 590