Hun Manith, son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, was given an expanded role in Cambodia’s intelligence network on Wednesday, heading a new intelligence unit that will be under direct control of the Ministry of Defence.
On Wednesday, Manith was promoted to general director of the new General Directorate of Intelligence, which was inaugurated that same day, according to a ministry statement yesterday.
The commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, Pol Saroeun, formally announced the creation of the new directorate, which has been planned since October, and Manith’s role at its helm.
“General Pol Saroeun expressed his admiration [for Manith],” the statement reads, adding Manith will have a “major role to play” in investigating, collecting and analysing information and activity, particularly in anticipation of the 2018 vote.
Ministry of Defence spokesman Chhum Socheat said via text yesterday the organisation’s role and responsibilities would not differ much from the previous Intelligence Department, but would be “under control by defence ministry directly”.
Analyst Meas Ny said the move appeared to be an attempt at further consolidation of power by Hun Sen by granting his son more control of the armed forces.
“They want to ensure that no one is out of control of the army command . . . and ensure the army is staying loyal,” Ny said.
Ny added that the development was particularly troubling given the reference to the 2018 election and the government’s penchant for warning of the possibility of war should the CPP lose power.
“The opposition has no army . . . the Prime Minister has argued again and again that there will be a state of war if CPP loses the election.”