Prime Minister Hun Sen's dismissal of of 17 senior government officials, all members
of the Funcinpec party, is "an illegal procedure and unjust", according
to Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
"This is one thing that is unlikely to favor [the formation a new government]
in the future," the Prince told reporters on September 22.
Hun Sen dismissed the officials from their posts on September 12. He said after a
Council of Ministers meeting that day that their dismissal was a warning to others
who failed to perform their duty during the current political standoff.
"I have told the ministers to continue to examine other officials who do not
perform their duty and respect the government regulations," he said. "We
will dismiss more officials if they do not work and violate civil service laws."
He has ordered that all government officials ensure that "stability, security,
and public order" are maintained. Hun Sen appealed to civil servants, military,
gendarmerie and police to work as usual and the armed forces to bring all military
materials, weapons and ammunition back to their units.
The dismissals angered Funcinpec officials. A statement issued by the party officials
on September 14 called the dismissal of the officers "political intimidation"
against the party. It claimed that four of the dismissed were under-secretaries of
state, three were diplomats and ten were provincial or district governors.
The CPP claims a number of the most powerful government ministries and has increased
its share of ministry staff in recent years. Following the 1998 elections, CPP and
Funcinpec formed a coalition government with CPP as the dominant party in the National
The two parties signed a political agreement in 1998 stating that the dismissal of
any Funcinpec officials in the government must be approved by the party first. But
Hun Sen said he was not bound by that agreement following Funcinpec's formation of
the Alliance of Democrats with the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP).
Although Funcinpec retains nominal control over 11 of the 24 ministries, with two
more headed by co-ministers, the recent dismissals and reshuffling within ministries
have tilted the power balance further in favor of the CPP.
In fact, several posts recently vacated by Funcinpec party members have been filled
with members from the CPP.
According to government proclamations issued in the last two months, the Funcinpec
Minister of Public Works and Transport (MPWT), Khy Taing Lim, was fired as chairman
of the Cambodian National Mekong River Commission. His position was taken by CPP
Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology Lim Kean Hor.
Mok Mareth, Minister of Environment, and the secretary of state of the MPWT, Tram
Iv Tek, who are both CPP members, are vice-chairmen on the board.
The Funcinpec Minister of Health (MoH) and chairman of the National AIDS Authority
(NAA), Hong Sun Huot, and NAA vice-chairman Nute Sokhom, were also stripped of their
roles in the NAA. The CPP secretary of state in the MoH, Mam Bun Heng, assumed the
head position. Three senior CPP officials, Ly Pou, Heng Tai Kri and Ung Vuthy, already
serve as vice-chairmen of the authority.