The National Assembly will meet this month in an extraordinary session to consider a proposed Cabinet reshuffle, Chan Ven, deputy secretary-general, said Wednesday.
Prime Minister Hun Sen called for the session Tuesday to approve the naming of new ministers to the Ministries of Justice, Rural Development and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The assembly is on recess.
Under the proposed reshuffle, the Funcinpec-appointed ministers of Justice and Rural Development would be replaced by two colleagues from within their party.
The vacant Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries post would be filled by the ministry’s CPP-appointed undersecretary of state Chan Sarun. The previous minister, Chea Song, died in April. Hun Sen has criticized Minister of Justice Uk Vithun for “abnormalities” within the ministry. Uk Vithun took office in January 1999, pledging to reform the judicial system, strengthen the rule of law and establish an independent court system.
But judicial reform in recent years has been painfully slow, critics have charged. When asked by reporters Wednesday about the reshuffle and about what his new position in the government might be, Uk Vithun referred questions to National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
“I don’t have a comment about this question,” he said.
Supreme Court Judge Niev Sithong is thought to be Uk Vithun’s most likely replacement, according to Funcinpec sources. Kong Phirun, a legal adviser to Prince Ranariddh, is also a candidate. At the Ministry of Rural Development, Funcinpec Secretary of State Ly Thuch could replace Minister Chhim Seak Leang.
Chhim Seak Leang is partially paralyzed and first submitted his resignation to Prince Ranariddh in March 2000, according to a Funcinpec official.
That same official said whoever becomes the new minister of Rural Development may find it difficult to use his position to stop official corruption. (Additional reporting by Phann Ana and Thet Sambath)
Chhim Seak Leang has been attempting to take back a 3,265-square meter property allegedly grabbed by the ministry’s CPP-appointed general director, Ly Pros.
(Additional reporting by Phann Ana and Thet Sambath)