The new province of Tbong Khmum, which has been carved out of Kompong Cham, was officially launched Monday at a ceremony presided over by Interior Minister Sar Kheng.
The ceremony was held at the new provincial capital of Suong City and also announced the appointments of 30 high-ranking members for the new provincial government—including its police chief, military police commander, and dozens of others.
In January, Prach Chan, who was at the time the governor of Battambang province, was appointed the province’s governor.
“His Excellency Sar Kheng advised our officials who are working for the new Tbong Khmum province to protect the public interest and ensure the safety of people transferring from Kompong Cham province,” Mao Pov, the new provincial police chief, said by telephone after Monday’s ceremony.
Among those present at the ceremony were a number of high-ranking officials including Deputy Prime Minister Ke Kim Yan, Rural Development Minister Chea Sophara and National Military Police commander General Sao Sokha.
The province, which is in the eastern half of what was Kompong Cham, was approved in December. It is made up of six districts and a city located east of the Mekong River, five of which were the only districts out of the 18 in Kompong Cham in which the ruling CPP won majorities at last year’s national election.
All of Kompong Cham’s remaining 12 districts were won by the opposition CNRP.
Announcement of the province was met with skepticism from election monitors and the CNRP, who said the split would be used to benefit the CPP. If the results of last year’s election were distributed over the new province, the CPP would win 51.75 percent of the vote there to the CNRP’s 42.10 percent.
The accusation was firmly denied by CPP officials who said the aim was simply to divide a populous province in order to improve the spread of public services.