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Generals added amid political crackdown

Defence Minister Tea Banh arrives at the army’s 63rd anniversary celebrations last year.
Defence Minister Tea Banh arrives at the army’s 63rd anniversary celebrations last year. Heng Chivoan

Generals added amid political crackdown

More than 200 officers in the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces were promoted to the rank of brigadier general or higher last month, marking the fifth mass promotion this year and further swelling the ranks of the military’s already-bloated top brass.

According to the government’s October Royal Book, 129 officers were promoted to one-star brigadier general, while 86 were given the two-star ranking of major general and 13 were elevated to three-star lieutenant general.

At least 785 officers have been promoted to the rank of brigadier general this year, and more than 1,250 generals have been added since April 2016. Independent security analysts have placed the number of generals at more than 3,000, and political analysts have suggested the promotions are meant to shore up support for Prime Minister Hun Sen within the armed forces.

Read more: For RCAF insiders, the proliferation of generals can be embarrassing

Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat has repeatedly denied any political motivation for the promotions, and yesterday said they were the result of merit and not related to politics.

“The promotion of ranks and transferring roles – this is the internal affair of the Defence Ministry, and there is no connection with other issues,” General Socheat said, adding that critics have “nothing to do with us and we do not care about them”.

Political analyst Meas Nee said the bumps were intended to appease commanders ahead of next year’s elections, and noted the moves may cause resentment with soldiers. “When there are too many high ranks in army, it will make it difficult to command the soldiers.”

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