Cambodia: Surprise arms deal

The Cambodian government has caught its opponents and the media by surprise, taking sudden delivery of a shipment of 100 tanks and 40 armoured personnel carriers which it had not previously announced it was buying.

The Phnom Penh Post reported on Friday that Cambodian Minister of Defence General Tea Banh confirmed only on Tuesday that his government had purchased the vehicles. He did not give details of their origin or cost.

Tea Banh said the tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APCs) were needed to upgrade the Cambodian military’s capability.

He could not be reached by the daily for further comment regarding the arms deal.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also refused to talk about the shipment, saying that he had no knowledge of it.

Approximately 100 tanks and 40 APCS had arrived at the Sihanoukville port on Tuesday, according to a source.

Opposition Sam Rainsy Party spokesman Yim Sovann said the were also surprised by the purchase, given its size.

Sovann called for all future military acquisitions to be transparent and made through the parliament. He saw no reason why the government had been keeping the deal a secret.

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