Cambodian leader Hun Sen names eldest son as successor and insists nothing wrong with establishing dynasty

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File: Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen (L) poses with his son Hun Manet (R) during a ceremony at a military base in Phnom Penh  (AFP via Getty Images)
File: Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen (L) poses with his son Hun Manet (R) during a ceremony at a military base in Phnom Penh (AFP via Getty Images)

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has endorsed his eldest son Hun Manet as his potential successor to the public office and defended dynastic rule.

“I announce today that I support my son to continue as prime minister,” Hun Sen said on Thursday in a speech in the country’s Preah Sihanouk province.

The Cambodian leader, who has ruled the southeast Asian country for 36 years, said his 44-year-old son will have to face an election scheduled in 2023.

Hun Sen, one of the longest-serving rulers in the continent, however, defended the culture of political dynasties and nepotism by citing the example of Shinzo Abe, the former prime minister of Japan.

“Even Japan has its own dynasty, like Abe. His grandfather was prime minister and he had visited Cambodia. Abe’s father was a foreign minister and Abe was a prime minister.”

“Why would someone else’s son be able to become prime minister and the son of Hun Sen not be able to?” he questioned.

Hun Manet is currently the three-star general and deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and joint chief of staff. He had graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1999 and has also completed his doctorate programme from Britain’s Bristol University in economics.

Hun Manet has also been inducted as a member of the permanent committee of the country’s ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP).

Hun Sen had earlier indicated the passing on of the state leadership within the family as well.

“I have to support my son and train him so that he is capable,” he had said last year.

The CPP has been ruling Cambodia since 1979. The party had swept general elections in 2018 by retaining all 125 seats in the legislative assembly. It had accused the opposition of plotting against the federal administration and attempting to overthrow their rule, after which the main opposition party was dissolved before the elections in 2017.

Hun Sen’s administration has been widely accused of muzzling the opposition, rights activists, civil society and media with several crackdowns.

The prime minister had earlier said his intention was to rule Cambodia until he felt he should stop.

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