Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday said he had removed 17 Funcinpec-affiliated government officials, including four undersecretaries of state, for failing to do their jobs following the July 27 general election.
“Yesterday I signed [an order] to remove 17 government positions,” Hun Sen told reporters after a Council of Ministers meeting. He did not name the officials, but said they also included 10 provincial and district officers and three diplomatic officers.
Hun Sen also threatened to remove more Funcinpec officials if they do not carry out their duties.
“We will continue to remove more because this is the time to follow the government’s regulations,” he said. “The officials who are under the government’s control must work for the government and must respect the government’s policy.”
Funcinpec officials said they were unaware of Hun Sen’s decision, but their reaction on Friday was muted.
“He is the boss so he can decide,” Funcinpec spokesman Kassie Neou said. “We can only hope that what he does is in accordance to the law…. We are not going to do anything.”
Funcinpec Minister of Information Lu Laysreng added: “He can do whatever he wants. He is the powerful prime minister.”
For the third time in a row since the election, several Funcinpec ministers and secretaries of state on Friday were absent from the Council of Ministers’ meetings. But, Kassie Neou said he could not confirm whether all of the party’s members had boycotted the meeting, saying Funcinpec had not issued an order to do so.
A Ministry of Interior official, who declined to be named, said Friday that none of the officials would be ousted from the government, but would be transferred.
The Constitution states that the removal of any member of the government must be done through a two-thirds majority vote by the National Assembly.
However, Noranarith Anandayath, Funcinpec undersecretary of state for the Council of Ministers, said Hun Sen had authority to remove lower-level officials without the Assembly’s approval.
But, Noranarith Anandayath said, “He is creating a problem for himself. If he continues to fire government officials, it means his government is unstable.”