Prime Minister Hun Sen’s children are continuing their rapid rise towards key positions in the military, as Hun Manith—the premier’s second son—was promoted to colonel and deputy head of the powerful Military Intelligence unit on Saturday, an RCAF commander said.
The move further consolidates Mr. Hun Sen family’s power in the military. Hun Manet, his eldest son, was promoted to major general in January last year and holds several top positions in RCAF.
RCAF Commander-in-Chief General Pol Saroeun said yesterday that Colonel Manith, 30, was promoted up from lieutenant colonel and also made deputy chief of the Defense Ministry’s Military Intelligence unit.
General Chea Dara, RCAF deputy commander-in-chief, was given leadership of the intelligence unit after its former chief and key Hun Sen ally, General Mol Roeup, died from diabetes and a heart attack last week, according to Gen. Saroeun.
Major General Nget Chanthol was also promoted to deputy RCAF commander-in-chief and Lieutenant General Sok Pheap received a position as undersecretary of state at the Defense Ministry.
Gen. Saroeun declined to comment on Col. Manith’s promotion and referred to his televised speech at RCAF headquarters, in which he said the positions being filled “demand good leaders, including those [who received] training overseas.”
Col. Manith was vetted in 2009 by the US Embassy to study at a US-funded defense institute in Germany, according to a diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks last year. At the time, Col. Manith was still a RCAF major serving as the deputy chief of administration at the National Counter-Terrorism Special Force.
All three of Mr. Hun Sen’s sons have received US military training.
Maj. Gen. Hun Manet, 34, graduated from the US Military Academy of West Point in 1999. He received his rank in January last year, only months after being named deputy commander of the Prime Minister’s Bodyguard Unit and deputy chairman of the RCAF Joint Staff. He was already commander of the National Counterterrorism Task Force.
Hun Many, Mr. Hun Sen’s youngest son, spent a year studying at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, but it is unknown if Mr. Many, 29, holds a RCAF position yet.
However, Mr. Many has been put in charge of an important CPP youth movement that aims to garner supporters among students, according to senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap.
“Hun Many is the national head of the [CPP’s] Voluntary Youth Movement. It works with universities and college students, who volunteer to help people suffering from various problems,” he said, adding that he could not remember when Mr. Many assumed this position.
Lao Mong Hay, an independent political analyst, said Col. Manith’s promotion follows a well-established pattern in Cambodia in which the ruling elites promote their children to key government positions.
Such promotions are “common these days,” adding, “Nowadays, the first generation of leaders are getting old, so it’s an opportunity for the most powerful to put their allies and children in positions of power.”
Mr. Mong Hay said the promotion to a key position of another of Mr. Hun Sen’s sons would help ensure that the army supports his leadership well into the future, adding, “He has been preparing for his succession and to consolidate his power in the meantime.”
(Additional reporting by Kuch Naren)