Speculation Rife Over Ministry Leaderships

As once-and-future coalition partners Funcinpec and the CPP  revealed on Monday how they will divide up ministries, speculating which personality would snare which political post be­came the biggest game in town.

Officials from both parties declined to comment on the rec­ord about who is most likely to fill a specific post, saying that their parties have not approved a list of appointments.

However, speculation among government insiders, diplomats and pro-government newspapers is running wild in the capital over who the next ministerial appointments will be. What follows is a summation of their collective conventional wisdom:

All sources are unanimous that the CPP’s Hor Nam Hong, the current ambassador to France and a close confidant of Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, is the leading contender be the next minister of foreign affairs.

The CPP’s Tea Banh was favored to hang on to his post as co-minister of defense. Likewise, Sar Kheng was expected to re­main the co-minister of interior for the CPP. Prince Sisowath Siri­rath has been mentioned as Funcinpec’s co-minister of de­fense appointee while the party’s nomination for co-minister of interior is unclear.

Sar Kheng is also a favorite to remain as the CPP’s deputy prime minister, although one government insider said that many of that post’s responsibilities will effectively fall to Sok An, the co-minister of the Council of Min­isters and another long-time confidant of Hun Sen.

Cham Prasidh is widely expected to keep his job atop the Min­istry of Commerce and Mok Ma­reth is favored to remain atop the Ministry of En­viron­­ment.

However, sources were divided on the prospects of the CPP’s Keat Chhon remaining minister of finance. Some sources mentioned the CPP undersecretary of state for Finance, Chhay Than, as a replacement.

Tol Lah, Fun­cinpec’s secretary-general, is ex­pected to re­sume the post of minister of education, which he vacated in July of 1997 after the factional fighting. Tol Lah is also expected to be Fun­cinpec’s choice for the second of two deputy prime minister posts.

Most sources say Uk Vithun, Funcinpec’s secretary of state for justice until the fighting in July 1997, will move up to become the minister of justice.

Sources reported that Hong Sun Huot, the party’s deputy secretary-general who ran the Min­istry of Rural Development until July 1997, will slide over to head the Ministry of Health.

Mu Sochua, who won a seat in the National Assembly in Bat­tambang, is tapped to assume the top job in the Ministry of Wo­men’s Affairs, sources believe.

Funcinpec’s choice for minister of information remains unclear, although sources have mentioned Ly Thuch and Ahmad Yah­ya in this job.

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