Funcinpec will reshuffle several provincial-level officials as its first step toward the reorganization announced at the party’s congress in November, Funcinpec officials said Wednesday.
Kampot Provincial Governor Puth Chandarith and Takeo First Deputy Provincial Governor Kuch Chantha will be moved to unspecified positions, Funcinpec spokesman Chea Chanboribo said.
“It is not a surprise. Kampot and Takeo would be the first step of the reform set out by the party’s recent congress,” Chea Chanboribo said, adding that the orders came directly from Funcinpec President Prince Norodom Ranariddh.
Puth Chandarith said he had received unofficial notice of the move, which he called routine.
But Kuch Chantha said party leaders might be holding provincial officials responsible for Funcinpec votes lost in the Senate election.
“We did lose votes. It could be one of the reasons. I won’t feel disheartened. I will still be faithful to Funcinpec but will try even harder,” Kuch Chantha said.
Kompong Chhnang Deputy Provincial Governor Ly Suo, a Funcinpec official, said he had heard that former Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Thach Khorn would replace Puth Chandarith, though Thach Khorn said he had no information about the move.
Hang Puthea, executive director of the Neutral and Impartial Committee for Free Elections in Cambodia, said Funcinpec’s housecleaning was likely an effort to cement political control over provincial positions, not to improve services in the provinces.
“The provincial authority is the representative of the political party in the province. They are responsible for the political situation in the province,” he said.
Sam Rainsy Party lawmaker Son Chhay urged the government to use set criteria in appointing provincial officials.
“The governors and the deputy governors in this country are somehow not qualified,” Son Chhay said.
“It has become a big problem, because they use their position to manipulate people…. This is a problem that makes poverty in this country, and creates all this abuse and intimidation.”