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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen argues Ke Kim Yan removal was part of RCAF reform

Hun Sen argues Ke Kim Yan removal was part of RCAF reform

Prime minister dismisses speculation that the removal of former RCAF commander-in-chief was the result of an internal CPP dispute

PRIME Minister Hun Sen said last week that the removal of Ke Kim Yan from his position as commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces last month was not the result of a conflict within the ruling Cambodian People's Party and was instead designed to expedite government and military reform.

Speaking Friday at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hun Sen said Ke Kim Yan remained a general and a member of the Central Standing Committee of the CPP.  

His comments seemed intended to quell speculation that the move had been part of a larger rift within the party.

"I would like to clarify that the CPP does not have a habit of internal disputes," he said.

Hun Sen has previously suggested, in a meeting at the Council of Ministers soon after the RCAF shake-up, that the former commander-in-chief was removed as part of a broader effort to  reform RCAF and prevent soldiers from involvement in land-grabbing.The prime minister alleged that Ke Kim Yan himself was involved in a number of high-profile land disputes, Council of Ministers sources said at the time.

Reform claim challenged

Yim Sovann, a lawmaker and spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said the removal of Ke Kim Yan would have little if any effect on how CPP officials operate.

Yim Sovann said Sunday that the government had demonstrated no interest in tangible reforms such as reducing the number of residents victimised by land grabs. Instead, he said, high-ranking members of the CPP are more interested in preserving and promoting their positions within the party.  

"Individual high-ranking CPP officials are using their power to gain personal benefits from national resources."

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan took issue with that assessment, saying that the government's new term began less than a year ago and that "a clear policy" of reform had already been set in motion. 

"We've had just a few months, but we have a clear policy in place," he said. 

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