A draft anti-corruption law was passed by 82 Cambodian lawmakers, mostly from PM Hun Sen's (pictured) ruling Cambodian People's Party. Ranked one of the most corrupt countries in the world, Cambodia passed the law in parliament on Thursday, more than 15 years after legislation to tackle graft was first proposed, but only days after the draft was shared publicly.
Cambodia on Friday accused the United Nations of "flagrantly interfering" in its affairs after local agencies expressed concern over a controversial anti-corruption law approved this week.
Ranked one of the most corrupt countries in the world, Cambodia passed the law in parliament on Thursday, more than 15 years after legislation to tackle graft was first proposed, but only days after the draft was shared publicly.
Opposition and rights groups said the draft was flawed and asked for more debate, and a statement this week from the UN country team in Cambodia encouraged enough time to ensure "a transparent and participatory" process.
"This so-called 'UN Country Team' should not act out of its mandate, in flagrantly interfering in the internal affairs of a UN member state," said a statement by Cambodia's foreign affairs ministry.
"Furthermore, it should refrain from acting as if it were the spokesperson of the opposition parties," it added.
All lawmakers from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party walked out of parliament in protest just hours before the draft law was passed by 82 lawmakers, mostly from Prime Minister Hun Sen's ruling Cambodian People's Party.
A national anti-corruption council and an anti-corruption unit will be created to oversee investigations, but critics said it was unlikely either body would be effective because both would be controlled by the ruling party.
Public figures face up to 15 years in prison if convicted of accepting bribes, according to the draft law.
The law will take effect after receiving approval from Cambodia's Senate and promulgation from King Norodom Sihamoni, which are both considered formalities.
Cambodia was ranked 158 out of 180 countries on anti-graft organisation Transparency International's most recent corruption perception index.
It was also ranked the second most corrupt Southeast Asian nation after Indonesia in an annual poll by the Political and Economic Risk Consultancy, seen by AFP on Tuesday.
Last year, a US diplomat said that graft costs Cambodia up to 500 million dollars every year, an allegation the government rejected as "unsubstantiated."