A freshly sworn-in National Assembly on Thursday voted in Prime
Minister Hun Sen's executive cabinet, granting as expected all top posts to
those loyal to the Cambodian People's Party and spreading lower-level ministry positions among CPP and Funcinpec.
The entire cabinet was approved in a package vote that
critics say defied the checks and balances of the National Assembly's right to
singularly approve cabinet nominations.
"The fourth legislative government has a duty to push the
development and push deeply and widely the implementation of reforms in all
fields for prosperity and progress," Hun Sen told the assembled lawmakers.
Missing from the National Assembly's first session were 26
Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers, who attended a swearing-in ceremony Wednesday but
boycotted the session Thursday.
Also absent Thursday were three Human Rights Party officials who were elected in
July but refused to be sworn in Wednesday. The three officials have said they
hope to request a separate swearing-in ceremony after the Pchum Ben festival,
which ends Sept. 30.
Both parties have protested the election results from July,
where the CPP won 90 of 123 National Assembly seats.
Thursday's appointments marked the formation of the largest
cabinet for the government to date, with 248 positions. Some positions had to
be added to the government to accommodate former opposition members who joined
the CPP ahead of the elections.
"The Human Rights Party disagrees with the new government's
composition, which has a bigger head than body," HRP President Kem Sokha said. "So
the Human Rights Party did not join the National Assembly meeting."
No ministry positions were given to the Sam Rainsy, Human
Rights, or Norodom Ranariddh parties.
But the Norodom Ranariddh Party had one cause to celebrate
Thursday: King Norodom Sihamoni announced he would grant a royal pardon to the
exiled leader of the party, Prince Ranariddh, following a request from Hun Sen.
Prince Ranariddh left Cambodia in early 2007 and was found guilty in absentia
of breach of trust, which carries a prison sentence of 18 months and a fine of
In a letter to the king and prime minister, Prince Ranariddh
said he planned to return Sept. 28, in time to participate in Pchum Ben
Nine deputy prime minister positions were approved, including
one position for Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bunchhay, as well as 16
senior minister posts, 26 ministers and 196 secretaries of state.
The ministries of Rural Development, Transportation,
Education, Health, Culture lost Funcinpec leaders.
Among those promoted, former Phnom Penh governor Chea Sophara, was given
minister of Rural Development.
The 26 new CPP ministers follow: Council Minister, Sok An;
Interior, Sar Kheng; Defense, Tea Banh; Foreign Affairs, Hor Namhong; Economy
and Finance, Keat Chhon; Agriculture, Chan Sarun; Rural Development, Chea
Sophara; Commerce, Cham Prasidh; Industry, Suy Sem; Planning, Chay Thon;
Education, Em Sithy; Social Affairs, Ith Samheng; Urbanization, Em Chhun Lim;
Environment, Mok Mareth; Water Resources, Lim Keanhor; Information, Khieu
Kanharith; Justice, Ang Vong Vathana; Inspection, Som Kimsuor;
Telecommunications, So Khun; Health, Mom Bunheng; Public Works and Transport,
Trang Iv Tek; Culture and Fine Arts, Him Chem; Tourism, Thong Khon; Cults and
Religion, Men Khin; Women's Affairs, Ing Kantha Thavy; Labor and Vocation, Vong