Cambodia deputy prime minister dies at 66

Cambodia deputy prime minister dies at 66
United Bank for Africa

Cambodia’s Deputy Prime Minister Sok An, 66, has died in Beijing after a long illness, local media reported on Thursday.

Sok had been a close ally since the 1980s of Prime Minister Hun Sen, who awarded his deputy the title of “Samdech Vibol Panha,’’ or “Lord of Greatest Wisdom,’’ shortly before his death on Wednesday, the Phnom Penh Post reported.

The Cambodian government has budgeted 750,000 dollars for Sok’s funeral, the Post reported.

An began his political career alongside Hun Sen during the decade-long Vietnamese occupation of Cambodia that replaced the Khmer Rouge.

Rising through the ranks alongside Hun Sen, Sok eventually led Cambodia’s powerful Council of Ministers and served as chairman of the Cambodian National Petroleum Authority.

His son Sok Puthyvuth is married to Hun Sen’s daughter Hun Mali, according to human rights group Global Witness.

Sok has been out of the public spotlight in recent years, but during his time in power he accumulated a vast network of business interests and wealth despite his small civil servant’s salary, according to reports.

He was a force behind logging concessions in the 1990s that saw large swathes of land deforested after they were sold to key allies and foreign companies, Global Witness has said.