The elevation yesterday of three high-ranking Ministry of Interior police officials to the rank of four-star general saw one political analyst refer to a recent rash of promotions as a “tsunami of generals” – one that has been triggered by politics.
“Promotions are politically motivated, because the government, which holds power, needs the army to hold on to [that power],” political analyst Kem Ley said, adding that he believed the current government would “not step down” were it to lose an election.
In recent weeks, the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces has seen 29 people upped to the level of four-star general, while the Ministry of Interior has now promoted nine to that rank.
In total, Cambodia has 67 four-star generals, a number dwarfed by the number of generals at large.
Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan yesterday rejected Ley’s take on the recent promotions, saying they were deserved rewards for meritorious service.
“All were promoted because they served the nation,” Siphan said. “The prime minister’s power does not come from the army, it comes from the confidence of Cambodia’s citizens.”
But Ley said there needed to be greater independence in the armed forces.
“If we do not reform the army to be independent under the King’s control, it could become the same as Burma [was],” he said, referring to past cases in which opposition politicians there have been arrested.