A third of Cambodia’s 24 provincial and municipal governors will be replaced and shunted into retirement, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday, but at least some are expected to stand for the ruling party in July’s national election.
In a speech in Kampot, the prime minister said 10 governors will be replaced, a decision already signed off on by King Norodom Sihamoni.
“Eight [governors] will retire, and of the other two, one has health problems and another will stand as a lawmaker [in July],” Hun Sen said.
Those listed as outgoing include Phnom Penh municipal governor Kep Chuktema, Siem Reap provincial governor Sou Phirin and the prime minister’s brother, Hun Neng, who has served as Kampong Cham provincial governor for almost three decades.
Neng said he was happy to stand down from his position – which, along with the other governors, was up for renewal on April 14 – but had no plans to retire altogether. In fact, he said, he will stand in the election on July 28.
“After 28 years as governor, I am very tired,” he said. “But I am happy to serve as a lawmaker.”
Kampong Thom provincial governor Chhun Chhorn – whom Hun Sen publicly lambasted last October for allegedly claiming false land on behalf of the Red Cross – said he had not been informed his time was up.
“I’ve not received any official letter and will continue in my role as governor,” he said.
Cheam Yeap, senior lawmaker and member of the permanent committee of the ruling CPP, told the Post in February that he expected at least four outgoing governors to stand in the election.
Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said the government should take it even further by standing down more governors.
“We should vote to choose . . . governors,” he said.
Hun Sen also said the government was planning to amend the law to encourage decentralisation.
“It is necessary to transfer power to provincial and municipal governors and have provincial councils appoint officials instead of ministers doing this,” he said.