Seven Funcinpec provincial governors have been removed from their posts - some
of them for failing to stop illegal logging and land seizure, according to Prime
Minister Hun Sen, who says removals will continue as part of the government's
Hun Sen, of the ruling Cambodian People's Party
(CPP), and Deputy Prime Minister Nhiek Bun Chhay, Funcinpec secretary-general,
have both said governors have been removed from their posts because of
widespread land and forest grabbing, and continuing land disputes within their
Speaking at the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and
Fishery's annual conference on March 29, Hun Sen said the governors' removal is
just one step in administrative reform.
He said governors have a duty to
co-ordinate and crack down on illegal logging and smuggling.
"It is more
difficult than fighting the Khmer Rouge," Hun Sen said of the struggle against
illegal land and forest grabbing, land disputes and smuggling. "I don't believe
that you don't know what is happening in your own work areas," he told the
dismissed governors in his speech. "The big problem is that you do not work, or
you are involved [in the illegal activities], that's why you dare not take
The government began removing Funcinpec officials from their
posts after the National Assembly amended the Constitution on March 2, reducing
the number of lawmakers required to form a government from two-thirds of the
Assembly to 50 percent plus one.
Immediately after the vote, Hun Sen
ordered a stop to power-sharing within the coalition government, beginning with
the removal of Nhiek Bun Chhay as Co-Minister of Defence, and Prince Norodom
Sirivudh as Co-Minister of Interior. Bun Chhay was later confirmed as a Deputy
Prime Minister, though Sirivudh lost his deputy prime minister's
The following day Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh
resigned as President of the National Assembly.
requirement for a two-thirds majority of the National Assembly to form the
government was established in 1993. CPP and Funcinpec have co-existed in various
forms of coalition for most of the time since then.
After the formation
of a new government in 2004, power at the provincial and city levels was shared
between the two parties, with Funcinpec being allocated ten of the 24 municipal
and provincial governorships, and the remaining 14 going to the CPP.
Chhay told reporters on April 5 that the removal of Funcinpec governors and
deputy governors was part of the government's plan to improve its capacity to
"Land and forest issues are still a big problem and
these governors' work has been ineffective," Bun Chhay said.
Post telephoned Bun Chhay to discuss his comments, he declined to confirm the
number of Funcinpec governors dismissed.
"I am sorry, and I am busy," Bun
According to royal decrees signed by King Norodom Sihamoni
since March 23, the Funcipec governors removed from office have been Oddar
Meanchey governor Kuch Moly, replaced by Pech Sokhen (CPP); Mondulkiri governor
Thu Son, replaced by CPP Ministry of Interior official Lay Sokha; Siem Reap
governor Sim Son, replaced by CPP Takeo governor Sou Phirin; Banteay Meanchey
governor Heng Chantha, replaced by his CPP deputy An Sum; Kandal governor Lao
Sunpa replaced by CPP deputy Khim Bou; Stung Treng governor Khem Seila replaced
by Loy Sophath, a CPP Anti-drug official of MoI; and Kep governor Chan Sam An
replaced by CPP Tramkok district governor (Takeo province) Has Sareth. Phnom
Penh Municipality Deputy Governor Mom Bunneang has been removed and not yet
replaced. The new Takeo governor is the CPP's Srei Ban.
A USAID report
on Cambodia's forest resources says the current legal uncertainty has encouraged
land grabbing by the elite in Cambodian society as well as encroachment on
forest land by the landless.
The report said that forest and wildlife
resources are being lost steadily through legal and illegal harvesting. It said
the next few years will be a pivotal period for improving natural resource
governance as a means to reduce conflict, fight poverty, and avoid human rights