The upper echelons of the government will be expanded in the coming mandate, with more senior positions being created within each ministry, officials said Monday.
Information Minister and government spokesman Khieu Kanharith said by telephone that the next government will include more secretary and undersecretary of state posts than in the third mandate.
“The new government will be bigger than the current government. We bring together [more] people; it is good for political stability,” Khieu Kanharith said.
“We will add at least one more secretary of state and undersecretary of state” to each ministry.
Khieu Kanharith declined to give more details, saying he was not authorized to speak further on the matter.
At present, most ministries have five secretaries of state and an equivalent number of undersecretaries. The only higher-ranking position within a ministry is that of the minister. The government had already added a handful of undersecretary of state positions in the last few months to accommodate individuals who had defected from the SRP.
The ruling CPP has not released many details concerning the composition of the cabinet in the government, beyond the fact that some senior posts would be given to junior partner Funcinpec.
Prime Minister Hun Sen revealed last week that Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bun Chhay would become a deputy prime minister and that current Funcinpec ministers Kol Pheng (Education), Veng Sereyvuth (Culture), Sun Chanthol (Public Works) and Nuth Sokhom (Health) would be senior ministers in the new government. It was unclear whether any of the four would retain their minister positions as well.
The prime minister also said that Funcinpec President Keo Puth Rasmey would lose his deputy prime minister post and that Funcinpec First Deputy President Lu Laysreng would no longer be the rural development minister or a deputy prime minister.
CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said Monday that it had already been decided to replace Lu Laysreng with CPP Land Management Secretary of State Chea Sophara, who was also formerly the governor of Phnom Penh.
Cheam Yeap added that the proposed government expansion was necessary to address the needs of a more developed Cambodia. “We are progressing from a small government to a big government,” he said, “we need a strong column for the house.”
Funcinpec Second Deputy President Prince Sisowath Sirirath said Monday that according to his information, Funcinpec will receive one secretary of state position and one undersecretary of state position in each ministry, but will not have any minister posts.
“We won’t bargain; we will accept what the CPP offers,” he said.
SRP President Sam Rainsy came out against the proposed expansion of the government, saying that it would eat away at the state budget. He added that the extra slots appeared geared at getting more CPP faithful into positions of prestige.
“It is a political issue, it is not for the country’s development,” he said.
Koul Panha, director of the Committee for Free and Fair Elections, also said that that expansion is an unnecessary drain on state resources. He added that the CPP’s overwhelming win in the election made it unnecessary to create new positions to placate a Funcinpec that has lost all of its bargaining power.
“In 2003, after the election there was a political deadlock, the CPP could not form a government,” he said. “Now there is not a problem, so why do they increase the [government’s] size?”
Regardless, the formation of the next government must wait for the official election results to be announced, which the National Election Committee said Monday will be delayed due to complaints from opposition parties.
NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha said by telephone that a total of four complaints against the announced preliminary results have been received. Made by the SRP, the Human Rights Party and Norodom Ranariddh Party, the complaints will have to be heard by the NEC and possibly the Constitutional Council before official poll results can be finalized, a announcement initially scheduled for today.
“The complaints have delayed the official result announcement,” Tep Nytha said.
Sam Rainsy said that the complaints involves requesting a revote in areas where names were allegedly illegally deleted from the voting list and where CPP voters were allegedly given illegal voter permission documents-the so-called 1018 forms-on the day of the election. The opposition has maintained since the election that these alleged irregularities had a strong impact on the seat allocations in the National Assembly.