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Governors eye Assembly

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Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema speaks during a ceremony in December in 2012. Photograph: Hong Menea/Phnom Penh Post

Several provincial governors are planning to retire in the coming months to make themselves eligible as candidates for the National Assembly in the upcoming July elections, a senior ruling party official said yesterday.

Cheam Yeap, senior lawmaker and member of the permanent committee of the ruling CPP, told the Post that about 10 provincial governors are slated for retirement in May, and said that at least four of them will run as lawmakers.

Those making the jump are Phnom Penh municipal governor Kep Chuktema, Kandal provincial governor Chhun Sirun, Kampong Speu provincial governor Kang Heang, and Kampong Cham provincial governor Hun Neng, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s brother.

“I would like to say that this is a principle of the party. Preparing as Samdech Techo Hun Sen has done, I think that this will increase support from people,” Yeap said.

The move to transition the governors into the National Assembly comes amid a flurry of activity by an ageing CPP leadership ahead of the elections.

This week it emerged that several sons of top-level officials, including Hun Many, the youngest son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and Dy Vichea, Hun Sen’s son-in-law, are standing for seats in July.

As for the soon-to-retire governors, Yeap added that those not competing for seats in July won’t be left out in the cold, and said some may be appointed as government advisors based on their level of experience.

Kampong Cham provincial governor Hun Neng told the Post yesterday that he’s happy to run as a lawmaker, and finds nothing strange about the CPP ushering seasoned governors into new positions.

“It’s not a problem if each retires,” he said. “If the leadership sees that we still have ability, and allows us to run, it’s up to them.”

Koul Panha, executive director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia, said that the policy of bring the retiring governors up made less sense than the CPP strategy of grooming its young sons for leadership.

To contact the reporter on this story: Meas Sokchea at sokchea.meas@phnompenhpost.com

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