Lieutenant General Hun Manet, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces, has taken over the role of chief of joint staff, replacing General Kun Kim who stepped down for personal reasons.
According to a letter obtained yesterday, Gen Kim transferred his position as chief of RCAF’s joint staff to Lt Gen Manet.
“Due to an important personal issue, I delegate full power as chief of joint staff to Lieutenant General Hun Manet to assume the duty as of the date of signature,” Gen Kim said in the letter signed on February 21.
Gen Kim did not specify the personal issue that required him to step down.
General Pol Saroeun, RCAF’s commander-in-chief, endorsed the letter on February 23.
Defense Minister Tea Banh said it was not uncommon to transfer power and roles within the army.
“It is a normal issue,” he said. “When they are busy, they transfer duties to someone else to take over.”
“Because he [Gen Kim] has a personal issue, he has delegated his job,” he added. “He [Lt Gen Manet] is qualified enough to perform this work.”
Political analyst Lao Mong Hay said that giving Lt Gen Manet the post was to prove that he has become a strong commander.
“This is to let Hun Manet assume a key position of responsibility and prove himself as a strong leader of RCAF,” Mr Mong Hay said.
Lt Gen Manet joined the army in 1995, the same year he entered the United States Military Academy at West Point.
In 2008, he was appointed as the commander of Cambodia’s National Counter-Terrorism Special Force.
Lt Gen Manet played a prominent role in negotiations during the 2008 dispute between Cambodia and Thailand – the latest round of a century-long dispute involving the area surrounding the 11th century Preah Vihear Temple.
He became a major general in January 2011, just months after being promoted deputy commander of RCAF and deputy chief of joint staff. He was promoted to lieutenant general in June 2013.