The United Nations plans to ask donors early next year to help fund a war crimes tribunal for surviving Khmer Rouge guerrilla leaders in Cambodia.

A spokesman for Secretary-General Kofi Annan says the appeal will be launched in February. No U-N estimate of the cost has been released, but Cambodia's government has said the tribunal will cost around $40 million. Donor countries, the United Nations and Cambodia will share the cost.

The Cambodian legislature has not yet ratified a tentative agreement to establish the tribunal that was worked out last June after five years of negotiations. The nation's parliament remains in disarray as the country's political parties try to establish a governing coalition after disputed elections five months ago.

A U.N. team was in Cambodia earlier this month to begin working on technical details of the tribunal plan. It is expected to propose a budget that will be the basis for the appeal to donors.

The Marxist Khmer Rouge regime is believed responsible for the deaths of nearly two million people during its four-year reign in the late 1970's.