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Sons of the party anointed

5 sok an meng kimlong
Deputy Prime Minister Sok An (centre) speaks to reporters outside the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia last year. Photograph: Meng Kimlong/Phnom Penh Post

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An (centre) speaks to reporters outside the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia last year. Photograph: Meng Kimlong/Phnom Penh Post

At least eight candidates standing in the upcoming July election are sons of high-ranking Cambodian People’s Party officials, a CPP registration list released yesterday confirms.

The list puts an end to speculation concerning the children of a number of party stalwarts. Previously, the names of only a handful of scions had been released by the party, which has created an unprecedented push to exploit family ties come July.

Deputy Prime Minister Sok An’s son, Sok Sokan, 30, becomes the latest child of a member from the party’s upper echelon to be confirmed as a CPP candidate, and will run for a seat in Takeo province.   

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s youngest son, Hun Many, 31, and his son-in-law, Dy Vichea, 32, will run as lawmakers in Kampong Speu and Svay Rieng, respectively. Sar Sokha, 31 – the son of Interior Minister Sar Kheng – will run in Prey Veng.

Say Sam El, 34, son of Senate deputy president Say Chhum, is to stand in Kampong Cham, and Dith Tina, son Supreme Court president Dith Monty, in Kandal. Royal Cambodian Armed Forces deputy commander-in-chief Kun Kim’s son Kim Rithy, 33, will run in Kandal; senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap’s son, Cheam Chansophoan, 40, will run in Battambang.

Ban Srey Mom, 39, the wife of Pailin provincial governor Y Chheam, is running along with five others believed to be the children and nephews of high- and mid-ranking CPP officials.

Puthea Hang, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections in Cambodia, said the CPP’s push to stand so many of its members’ children – though unique in this election – followed a long political tradition.

“It’s a habit of politicians in Cambodia,” he said. “We have seen that people who have no family line have lost opportunity [over time].”

The opposition Cambodian National Rescue Party has not yet registered, and it is unclear how many, if any of its members’ children will run.

CNRP vice president Kem Sokha said yesterday he did not have the names yet of candidates and couldn’t say whose children were running. Personally, he said, his would not be.

Speaking at a pagoda opening last week, Hun Sen defended the CPP policy, insisting that there was no nepotism involved and saying it was an important way to ensure continuity of the party.

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