The deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), Lieutenant General Hun Manet, will be promoted to acting chief of the joint staffs and chief of the armed forces. However, he retains his current responsibilities as well.
Manet who is the son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, replaces General Kun Kim and General Meas Sophea, who are both stepping down to stand as candidates in the July 29 elections, according to an announcement.
General Sao Sokha, another RCAF deputy commander, will assume the role of acting commander of the armed forces. He replaces General Pol Saroeun, who is also looking to win a National Assembly seat in the coming elections.
The announcement, signed by Banh and obtained by The Post on Wednesday, read: “Tea Banh, deputy prime minister and minister of defence, has issued new roles in the Royal Cambodia Armed Forces.
“They are as follows: His Excellency General Sao Sokha will become acting commander of the RCAF, together with his existing responsibilities; His Excellency Lieutenant General Hun Manet, deputy commander of RCAF, will become acting chief of joint staff and chief of the RCAF together with his existing responsibilities,”
“The changes were made following requests for special leave for participation in the upcoming elections and are effective from June 30.”
Political analyst Hang Vitou claimed the promotion of Manet was a planned move to maintain power by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party.
“This is because Hun Sen does not trust anyone as much as his children,” he said.
Sokha has long been the commander of the National Military Police and a deputy RCAF commander-in-chief. He is said to have forged close ties to the prime minister since he was an aide to Hun Sen in the 1970s.
Manet is also the current head of the joint-ministry counterterrorism taskforce and deputy commander of Hun Sen’s Bodyguard Unit.
He had previously participated in negotiations during the 2008 dispute between Cambodia and Thailand involving the area surrounding the 11th-century Preah Vihear temple.