The Ministry of Interior issued a directive on Monday to all provincial and district councillors, reminding them that any adviser or assistant positions they were assigned before March’s municipal, provincial and district council elections were no longer valid.
The directive also stated that advisers or assistants appointed after the election must only hold one position as an adviser, assistant or councillor.
The directive, issued by Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, said the ministry had been made aware that there are provincial and district councillors in office who had been appointed advisers or assistants before the election.
If those individuals were elected during the March polls, the directive continued, they could only hold their elected position, with their previously held positions as advisers or assistants now void.
The directive also said all elected councillors who had been appointed as advisers or assistants after the election must decide between their roles and only receive one salary.
Ministry of Interior spokesperson Phat Sophanit could not be reached for comment on the directive.
Ros Pharith, the Svay Rieng province deputy governor, said on Tuesday that he had seen the directive and his administration would follow it.
He said he will check to see if any of his current councillors had held an advisory position before the election and would ensure government officials in his department were receiving only one salary.
“I am not sure if anyone in my department holds two positions, but this directive is to prevent such things from happening. If they have two positions, they need to take only one of them. So they should think which one is best for them and take it,” he said.
Vei Samnang, the Kampong Speu provincial governor, said the directive made it clear that a civil servant must hold only one position in order to carry out work with due attention.
“Maybe in some places those who were elected as provincial councillors still hold positions as advisers or assistants and have not resigned from those positions. So, this is just a reminder to them to leave that position,” Samnang said.
San Chey, the Affiliated Network for Social Accountability executive director, said government officials should only hold one position and it is strange to hear that some provincial or district councillors had previously been appointed as advisers or assistants.
He said elected officials should only serve in the position that the constituents elected them for.
“I think it is a good idea to annul the positions as advisers or assistants for those in the position of councillor,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sar Kheng said on Tuesday that the government’s decentralising efforts were facing challenges as some national leaders who wished to retain power were impeding the process.
“We intend to reform the district and city [administration] structures. If this has not been done, the administration will be abandoned and it will be wasting of a lot of resources from the national budget,” he said, urging authorities to speed up the reforms.