Funcinpec Fills Phnom Penh Governor Slots

After more than a year of foot-dragging and inaction, Funcinpec has finally filled its top two municipality posts.

Than Sina is Phnom Penh’s first deputy governor and controversial resistance commander Lay Virak is the third deputy governor, according to a royal decree issued Thursday by King Noro­dom Sihanouk and broadcast Saturday on TVK.

Than Sina will leave his post at the Interior Ministry, where he was a secretary of state.

“I am pleased with the work and responsibility given by the appointment,” Than Sina said Sunday. “I will try all my best to work and help other municipal officials including Governor [Chea Sophara] to solve security and public order issues.”

Lay Virak was the No 3 resistance commander following 1997’s factional fighting and led troops against CPP forces in the northwest until 1998. Before the inter-party fighting that flared up in 1997, Lay Virak had been RCAF division 12 commander based near Poipet.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith (CPP) said he welcomed the appointments.

“It’s good that Funcinpec finally filled the vacant positions,” Khieu Kanharith said. “They have to work hard together and put national interests above their own interests.”

He said the choice of Lay Virak would not be a problem, he added. “We all welcome whoever comes to the post.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen and Prince Ranariddh agreed on the promotion of CPP central committee member Chea Sophara in November to the top city governor spot from the first deputy governor slot in November. The move irked many Funcinpec members as the city’s top spot had been granted to the royalist party in the 1998 deal that created a coalition government.

According to the Funcinpec steering committee, the selection of the two was originally recommended by party’s President Prince Norodom Ranariddh and later nominated by the party.

A steering committee member said Sunday that the additions would benefit to the municipality.

“Chea Sophara and Than Sina are complementary for each other,” said the Funcinpec official on a condition of anonymity. “Please give them a few months. The new team will im­prove all aspects of the municipality’s work including security, public order and beautification projects.”



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