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Hun Sen seals Cambodia’s political dynasty as son becomes PM

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The son of Cambodia’s longtime dictator Hun Sen has assumed the role of prime minister, after the country’s parliament approved his new government, following an election last month that was widely criticised as neither free nor fair.

The ascension of Hun Manet, who was educated at the US military academy West Point in New York, marks the conclusion of a political succession years in the making. The 45-year-old leads a new generation of ruling elite taking power from the old guard for the first time since a rebellion against the Khmer Rouge in 1979.

Goodbye and hello: Cambodia’s longtime ruler Hun Sen, left, has passed on the prime ministership to his son Hun Manet, right. Credit: Reuters/File

Hun Sen, who steps aside after more than 38 years as prime minister, will continue on as president of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party and an MP.

“Today is a historic day for Cambodia that the National Assembly voted for me to be the new prime minister,” Hun Manet told MPs in his first remarks on the job. He said he would prioritise developing the economy, including small businesses and infrastructure projects.

The CPP nearly swept the vote last month, winning 120 of 125 seats up for grabs in the National Assembly, after the main opposition was barred from participating for a second time. The vote was criticised by some Western nations, and prompted the US to impose visa restrictions on individuals “who undermined democracy and implemented a pause of certain foreign assistance programs”.

Hun Manet contested in the elections for the first time after rising through the armed forces ranks to become a four-star general. Little is known of how he plans to rule over the South-east Asian nation that has drawn closer to China to shore up an economy that is on the mend following the pandemic.

The World Bank has forecast Cambodia to accelerate to 5.5 per cent this year after China accounted for more 90 per cent of the foreign direct investment in 2022.


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