Phnom Penh municipal police chief Touch Naroth (C) is pictured at the scene of a fire in July 2012. Photograph: Pha Lina/Phnom Penh Post
A shake-up at the top of Phnom Penh’s municipal police force will see its long-serving chief, Brigadier General Touch Naroth, relinquish his position for a role in the Ministry of Interior’s bodyguard department, he has confirmed.
Naroth could be overseeing the bodyguard unit as early as Wednesday – a move local media outlets have reported as a promotion – clearing the way for Lieutenant General Chuon Sovan, deputy chief of the National Police at the Ministry of Interior, to assume Naroth’s position.
“We’re all aware of this appointment,” Naroth confirmed.
He did not, however, say whether he considered the new role to be a promotion.
“I guess we’ll wait until there is an official ceremony before we talk more about it.”
National Police spokesman Kirt Chantharith said yesterday that he had not received any information about the new appointments, nor could he confirm whether more were expected in senior police ranks.
Pro-government news sites Kampuchea Thmey Daily, DAP News and Cambodia Express News reported yesterday that the reshuffling was set to occur, and that Sovann would take the role as city police chief in addition to the position he has now.
Sovan told the Post yesterday he had been expecting the additional responsibly but had not been officially given the job.
“I have not been appointed to this position,” he said. “However, I’m not surprised this has surfaced in the media. Journalists have enough confidential sources willing to talk.”
Additionally, Pol Pithey, deputy police commissioner of Phnom Penh, has been promoted to director of the anti-human trafficking department, replacing Bith Kimhong.
Koul Panha, executive director of election monitor Comfrel, said a sudden reshuffling of high-ranking officials was almost always carried out at the behest of powerful politicians with an agenda.
“This is not usually in line with the legal system,” he said.
Political analyst Son Soubert said it was important to ask who had ordered the changes and for what reasons.
Ministry of Interior spokesman Khieu Sopheak could not be reached for comment yesterday.