KARACHI: A former army officer who was once among the countrys top security forces, a former spy and a top military commander, is being hailed as the new face of a government struggling to deal with the spread of a deadly coronavirus.
In a rare move, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Khairkhwa has appointed Rani Aslam Khayyam as deputy prime minister, replacing retired Brigadier General Kamu Khatun.
The move comes as the government tries to hold together a coalition of opposition parties that had vowed to oppose the appointment.
The government, in turn, says it has been able to maintain its grip on power in the face of mounting criticism over the use of lethal force against protesters.
Rani Asalam, who served as a deputy minister of defence from 2002 to 2006, will take charge of overseeing a government that has not only been shaken by the coronavir epidemic but also by its failure to act.
Khayyham, the former head of the intelligence agency, is the latest in a string of military figures who have been given roles in government in recent weeks.
He has held a key role in the transition of military leadership after Gen. Prayuth Chan-ocha resigned.
Khairkhwa, the son of a former communist party official, is one of the most powerful men in the country.
His tenure as head of a small army has seen him become the highest-ranking military officer to resign from office in recent years.
But he has faced criticism for his lack of accountability.
A few months ago, a video surfaced showing him at a conference in which he praised the power of the military, saying the military has “control” over the country’s people.
He was later sacked by the army, which said the video was fake.
The army has denied the allegations, but a government investigation has since found that Khayyshwa had spoken out of turn.
The army said he had been suspended in May after the army alleged he was involved in a plot to kidnap a foreign diplomat and force him to resign.
The coronavis virus is killing at least 8,000 people and has forced thousands from their homes.
A recent poll found that 77% of Cambodians want to see the army reinstated and a government survey found 58% want a military commission to be established.
A new political party has been formed in Khayyaas case to fight for reforms.
The countrys ruling party, the People’s Party, is trying to unseat Khayyan as prime minister.