A day after affirming that all politically-appointed and civil service officials will maintain their positions in the next term, outgoing Prime Minister Hun Sen announced that the new government will also retain the Supreme Consultation Council – a committee formed and chaired by the premier following the 2018 general election as a step towards a “culture of dialogue” among all political parties.

Hun Sen hinted that political parties that had not contested the 2023 election could also join the council in the next mandate, though the final decision rests on the new government to be led by his son Hun Manet.

The statement apparently gives a green light to the opposition Candlelight Party (CP), which was disqualified from the July 23 election for non-compliance with the National Election Committee’s regulations.

“We need to gather input from other political parties – whether they secured seats in the National Assembly or not – to contribute to building the nation,” he stated in a July 30 audio address to the nation.

The council will come to an end on August 22 along with the mandate of the caretaker government.

“At least three officials from each party should join this council. I also discussed the opportunity for parties that have registered with the Ministry of Interior – but did not contest the election – to join the council. We will leave this matter for the new government location, tint 60% and new prime minister to request that the King issue a royal decree to reinstate this council for the 7th government mandate,” Hun Sen said.

“We want to mobilise human resources and ideas to further our country’s development. On top of that, this is in the spirit of national reconciliation toward a prosperous future. We should have consultation both from within [the government] and outside,” he said.

A day prior, in a bid to allay concerns among senior government officials amid the Kingdom’s imminent leadership transition, Hun Sen announced his decision to retain all politically-appointed and civil service officials, with the only major changes to be related to the roles of Government Delegate attached to the Prime Minister.

Hun Sen said the decision followed a meeting with Senate President Say Chhum, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng, Minister of National Defence Tea Banh, Minister of National Assembly-Senate Relations and Inspections Men Sam An, Minister of Economy and Finance Aun Pornmoniroth and Minister of Justice Koeut Rith, along with Manet.

“We intend to retain all politically appointed officials like secretaries of state, undersecretaries of state and advisers to the government – unless they choose to resign for reasons of age or illness.

“Those who were appointed by a royal decree will be re-appointed by an updated decree. Those who were appointed by a sub-decree shall also be re-appointed, as were those appointed by their respective minister,” he explained.

He added that civil service officials – from director-generals down to deputy district governors, as well as members of the police and armed forces of all ranks – will retain their positions. The only exceptions are those who have reached the mandatory retirement age.

Regarding altercations to the role of Government Delegate attached to the Prime Minister, most of whom double as secretaries of state at various ministries, Hun Sen said they will be required to relinquish either one. The only two exceptions are the Director-General of Taxation and the Director-General of Customs, who will continue to serve in their current roles, reporting both to the finance minister and the prime minister.

He reiterated that deputy prime ministers and ministers who no longer hold their positions will continue to serve the nation as members of the National Assembly, as will he, before he replaces Say Chhum as Senate president next year.

Ministers who are not members of the National Assembly will act as advisers to the government, and may run for the Senate in the future, he noted.

Thong Mengdavid, a research fellow at the Mekong Centre for Strategic Studies at the Asian Vision Institute, told The Post on July 30 that change in political roles after the election is designed to stimulate national development in an innovative way, while increasing the efficiency of work and pushing for faster, more effective solutions to social challenges.

“Despite changes to the positions of some senior Cambodian political dignitaries, under soon-to-be Prime Minister Hun Manet, Cambodian politics remain stable, peaceful and united at the national and sub-national levels,” he said.

“This is a testament to a political turning point in Cambodia. On August 22, 2023, Cambodia will have a new leader with in-depth knowledge and experience. He is politically mature and has earned the respect and love of party officials and the Cambodian people alike,” he added.

Yang Peou, secretary-general of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, told The Post on July 30 that the retention of all officials was a testament to the political heritage of the CPP, which is to leave no one behind.

“The decision will ensure stability in the public service, avoid incitement and division, and continue to gather human resources under a peaceful umbrella towards the development of the Kingdom,” he said.