Long-time CPP Leader Nguon Nhel Dies, Age 79

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Nguon Nhel in a photo posted to his Facebook page in March.

Nguon Nhel, the first vice president of the Cambodian National Assembly, died Friday morning at Khmer-Soviet Hospital in Phnom Penh.

Nhel, 79, had been ailing due to sickness, according to National Assembly spokesman Leng Peng Long, who described Nhel’s death as a “huge loss” for the CPP and the country as a whole. Long said Nhel’s body will lie in state at his home in O’Andong village of the Chbar Ampov district of Phnom Penh.

Nhel had been a CPP stalwart, serving the party as a high-ranking member of its Permanent Committee and the chairman of its Working Group for Kampong Thom province. Spokesman Peng Long said Nhel had also been secretary of the party for Phnom Penh, a former minister of agriculture and a lawmaker from Kampong Thom.

As first vice president of the National Assembly, Nhel was the second-highest ranking figure in that body. He had previously ceded that position to former opposition leader Kem Sokha until Sokha was removed from office, at which point the first vice presidency passed back to Nhel.

Prime Minister Hun Sen publicly announced on Friday his condolences to Nhel’s family. Hun Sen described the death as a “huge loss of an outstanding Khmer political figure, who was full of conscientious will to serve the cause of the nation, religion and the King in all circumstances, and had actively contributed to the promotion of the values of the rule of law with high ideals.”

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