Council of Ministers Adviser Given Sok An’s Parliamentary Seat

Chea Vandeth, the founder of a major private university and adviser to the Council of Ministers, will take former Deputy Prime Minister Sok An’s parliamentary seat representing Takeo province, officials said on Sunday.

The appointment of Mr. Vandeth, who has also served as president of the company in charge of the Choeung Ek genocide memorial site, to replace Sok An, who passed away earlier this month, has been approved by the National Election Committee (NEC), according to CPP spokesman Sok Eysan.

“He automatically becomes lawmaker when someone dies or loses their position because he is the next in line from the reserve candidates” in the province on the CPP’s 2013 election roster, Mr. Eysan said.

National Assembly spokesman Leng Peng Long said the NEC forwarded Mr. Vandeth’s name last week, and that lawmakers would vote to approve his appointment at a plenary session next month.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said Mr. Vandeth had once worked in Sok An’s cabinet, but had “been away from the office quite a long time.”

A roster for a 2007 government-sponsored conference lists Mr. Vandeth as the council’s chief of cabinet. Sou Phirin, a secretary of state at the body, said Mr. Vandeth now served as an adviser to the council.

Mr. Vandeth co-founded the American University of Phnom Penh in 2013. He has also served as president of Japan-based JC Royal Group, which in 2005 was awarded a 30-year lease to manage the Choeung Ek killing fields memorial as a tourist attraction.

Youk Chhang, head of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, said he believed Mr. Vandeth still held the position.

Mr. Vandeth could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Last week, the ruling party appointed Pol Saroeun, commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, to take over Sok An’s role as head of the CPP working group in Takeo province.

Though the armed forces are ostensibly politically neutral, the CPP’s upper ranks are filled with generals.

Mr. Eysan on Sunday defended the appointment, pointing to General Saroeun’s experience as a governor in the 1980s.

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