Police Reshuffle Reflects Riots, Old Alliances

The Ministry of Interior has started what may be a major shuffle of police officials in the wake of last week’s anti-Thai riots, with at least one police official demoted and five officials likely to be promoted, officials said Thursday.

The most significant change comes with the government’s decision to promote former director of the Ministry of Interior’s Central Department, Neth Sa­voeun, to serve as deputy commissioner of the National Police, said General Khieu Sopheak, spokes­man for the Ministry of Interior.

The government has also promoted Duong Sarun, chief of police for Sihanoukville, and Nuon Bophal, police chief of Siem Reap town, to brigadier generals, Khieu Sopheak said.

Both men will remain in their respective provinces and were granted the positions because Sihanoukville and Siem Reap are heavily touristed, and therefore high-profile areas, said one official with the Ministry of Int­erior’s Information Depart­ment.

Also set for promotion is Sao Urny, a one-star police general who will be upped to two-star general, and Sao Molina, a colonel and acting head of the Ministry of Interior’s External Relations De­partment, Khieu Sopheak said.

“The men were promoted be­cause they were most qualified,” Khieu Sopheak said. “[The Interior Ministry] made the decision…before the Jan 29 riots.”

One official, however, said the shuffle is directly related to the riots. “In this event, an event like Jan 29, of course some people are going to be promoted or fired,” the official said.

National Police Chief Hok Lundy reportedly removed Chan Sitha, the acting director of the Intervention Police, from his post and positioned him in Svay Rieng province, said one lieutenant with the Intervention Police.

One foreign adviser to the Ministry of Interior said that since Neth Savoeun is married to Hun Sen’s niece, it shows that the premier is attempting to strengthen his power base in law enforcement agencies while another international observer commented that the officials who were promoted are tied to Hok Lundy, a close Hun Sen ally.



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