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CPP To Control All Ministerial Positions

The ruling Cambodian People's Party will have the top seats in all of Cambodia's 25 ministries, as well as the Council Minister position, according to a draft of its new administration.

Every administration since the 1993 Untac elections has shared ministerial posts, as part of the peace process, but the CPP's dominant showing in July's election means it will not divide the top posts.

The new administration will include lower ministry positions for both Funcinpec and the Norodom Ranariddh Party, but not for the opposition Sam Rainsy and Human Rights parties, officials said Wednesday.

Critics warn that the planned administration could lead to the decline of democracy and rights.

The CPP's draft administration will include 36 political defectors from the Sam Rainsy Party, including secretary and undersecretary of state positions, according to the draft.

"Those CPP ministers have talent and experience," said CPP lawmaker and Central Committee member Chiem Yeap. "The CPP is now trying to govern alone and keep partner positions in secretary and undersecretary [slots] and some provincial governors only."

According to the draft, obtained this week by VOA Khmer, Funcinpec Secretary-General Nhiek Bunchhay will be promoted to a deputy prime minister position, the only non-member of the CPP to hold that title.

The draft also shows several shifts in the CPP cabinet. At least five Funcinpec members will be appointed to "senior minister" positions, honorary titles below deputy prime minister that can include special assignments.

Key ministries, such as Commerce, Finance, Foreign Affairs, Defense and Interior and Council of Ministers will all keep their current ministers, according to the draft.

The ministries of Rural Development, Transportation, Education, Health and Culture will lose their Funcinpec ministers to CPP replacements.

The ministries of Tourism and Religion, which have been held by CPP members in recent years, will retain their CPP ministers who recently replaced Funcinpec members.

"The new government will be more dynamic in tourism, agriculture, industry, petroleum, construction, services and investment," Chiem Yeap said.

Officials expect to enact the new administration following the first session of the National Assembly Sept. 24.

The two opposition parties have threatened to boycott the session, potentially deadlocking the government, which they maintain was fraudulently elected.

However, the opposition and human rights organizations note that the single-party administration will have its downsides.

The right of expression in public places like demonstrations or rallies will be minimized, said Ny Chakrya, chief investigator for the rights group Adhoc.

The new administration will "deteriorate" democracy nationwide, Sam Rainsy said.

"It will be a great danger, and the country will fall into the communist system," he said.