The National Election Committee (NEC) on Monday said that a host of senior ruling party officials had resigned from their elected posts in Parliament in order to allow lawmakers lower down the party’s rostrum of candidates to be given a seat in the National Assembly.
“The CPP sent us the letters of their member’s resignation after the party received the resignation letters,” said NEC Secretary-General Tep Nytha.
Among the group of CPP officials who stepped aside to make way for junior lawmakers were 14 government ministers as well as CPP president Chea Sim and CPP secretary-general Say Chhum, two of the most senior figures in the ruling party hierarchy.
More than half of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Cabinet of 26 ministers, many of whom won seats in Parliament based on their position on the CPP’s official candidate list, also resigned their seats in the National Assembly prior to final election results being released by the NEC on Sunday.
This group included Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana, Commerce Minister Cham Prasidh, Social Affairs Minister Ith Sam Heng, Information Minister Khieu Kanharith and Rural Development Minister Chea Sophara.
Among the notable first-time candidates who will be taking seats in the National Assembly—despite not having been high enough on the CPP’s candidate list to be given an automatic seat—are Hun Many and Sar Sokha, the sons of Mr. Hun Sen and Interior Minister Sar Kheng.
Former Phnom Penh governor Kep Chuktema will also begin his first term as a lawmaker when the National Assembly conducts its first session, scheduled for September 23.
Finance Minister Keat Chhon and Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, who are both nearly 80, are also slated to take seats in Parliament.
A number of CPP progeny who were first-time candidates for Parliament were not given seats, including the sons of Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap, Supreme Court President Dith Monty and Mr. Chhum, the CPP secretary-general.
Mr. Yeap said that those ministers and senior officials who had resigned from Parliament would still be eligible to keep their jobs under Mr. Hun Sen.
“They are not lawmakers, but they are still members of the government,” he said, adding that ministers who performed well would keep their jobs, while others might be asked to take up other posts.
“It depends, some can be diplomats or ambassadors while some officials who have been doing a good job will remain ministers,” Mr. Yeap added.
Defense Minister Tea Banh, who won a National Assembly seat in Siem Reap province and will retain his position as a lawmaker, said that the decision by the party to have some senior lawmakers step down was not a reflection of their performance.
“They were all elected but they will get other positions instead, which the party has already prepared for them,” he said, adding that he could not be sure about who would serve in Mr. Hun Sen’s Cabinet until a new government is voted in by Parliament.
“Only after the National Assembly is born [will we know who will fill ministerial positions]. Only after the prime minister takes his position, and then the prime minister will choose the ministers,” Mr. Banh said.
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