Prime Minister Hun Sen has threatened to remove a provincial military commander and two deputy provincial governors in Preah Sihanouk province over their involvement in a violent crackdown during a land dispute last month.
During a Supreme Consultative Council’s meeting yesterday, Mr Hun Sen threatened to fire provincial military commander Major General Savin Vibol, two unnamed deputy provincial governors, and a district governor over their involvement in using violence during the land dispute, officials said.
Chim Phal Virun, SCC secretary general and an advisor to Mr Hun Sen, yesterday said the premier ordered Defence Minister General Tea Banh to investigate and possibly remove Maj Gen Vibol over his involvement in allowing armed soldiers under his command.
“Regarding the irregularities over the implementation of the Supreme Court decision on January 24, Samdech Techo [Hun Sen] expressed his disappointment to what SCC members raised,” Mr Phal Virun said. “There is a need to conduct further investigation. [Hun Sen] asked Samdech Tea Banh to look into how the provincial military commander acted.”
“If he is found guilty of committing wrong, he must be fired from his position,” he added.
He said Mr Hun Sen also threatened to fire Prey Nop district governor Sar Kakada for his role in the crackdown.
“Samdech [Hun Sen] said that he needs only 15 minutes to remove them from their positions,” he said.
Khmer Rise Party president Sok Sovann Vathana Sabung said the violent crackdown should not have happened.
“Samdech Techo expressed his regret over the crackdown and he directly ordered officials to check and possibly remove the provincial military commander [Maj Gen Vibol] from his position,” Mr Sovann Vathana Sabung said.
On January 24, a clash broke out in Preah Sihanouk’s Prey Nop district as provincial authorities were measuring disputed land after protestors threw stones and petrol bombs at security forces. In return, security forces fired multiple warning shots into the air.
A construction worker was shot and injured, while four other villagers were arrested and released the same day.
On February 25, National Military Police spokesman Brigadier General Eng Hy said that following an investigation, a fact-finding team disciplined four military police officers who were found to have committed the wrongdoing during the land dispute.
Maj Gen Vibol could not be reached for comment, while Preah Sihanouk provincial governor Yun Min declined to comment yesterday.
Provincial Hall spokesman Or Saroeun said he heard Mr Hun Sen’s warning remarks, but has yet to receive a letter.
“If the government finds them guilty of committing the mistakes, it is up to the government to remove them,” Mr Saroeun said.