Seven provincial governors will be retired and replaced with younger officials by early next year, according to an Interior Ministry official—just in time for the highly anticipated commune elections.
Sak Setha, a secretary of state at the ministry, said the leadership shake-up was announced by Minister Sar Kheng on Monday.
“He has prepared new officials already to replace some provincial governors who will retire,” Mr. Setha said. “They will begin to retire in April or May this year and it will continue through the beginning of 2017.”
The governors set to be replaced are from Kompong Thom, Kompong Speu, Kompong Cham, Tbong Khmum, Svay Rieng, Preah Vihear and Banteay Meanchey provinces, he said.
Mr. Setha insisted the governors were being replaced only because they were approaching the age of 60, when civil servants are required to retire. “It is for no other reasons that we are changing some of the provincial governors,” he said.
Kompong Speu governor Ou Sam Ourn said he had yet to be officially informed of his exact retirement date, but knew he was approaching the end of his term leading the provincial government.
“I am scheduled to retire in 2016, but I have not received an official letter from the Ministry of Interior yet,” he said.
Political analyst Ou Virak said that while village chiefs and other local officials typically exercised more influence in commune elections, the move was still likely based in part on the ruling CPP’s desire to appeal to the country’s expanding bloc of young voters.
“Now it seems to be part of the strategy to reshuffle…and go with more younger people,” he said.
“It will remain to be seen who is going to replace them, but if this…is actually the reason they are going into retirement, then the people who are going to replace them are going to be younger than them,” he added.
“It could be that these younger [governors] might be able to have a better impact with the younger population, with younger voters.”
Additional reporting by Anthony Jensen