Cambodia’s king on Monday approved the nomination of the Western-educated son of Prime Minister Hun Sen to become the next premier, confirming a much-anticipated transfer of power by one of the world’s longest-serving leaders.
The decree endorsing 45-year-old army general Hun Manet requires the approval of the National Assembly, which will be dominated by the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) after its landslide victory in a July 23 election in which all viable opposition was sidelined.
The decree was first posted on the Telegram channel of Premier Hun Sen, a former Khmer Rouge guerrilla who has ruled for nearly four decades at the helm of a fast-changing country rebounding from decades of war and poverty. Analysts had long expected Hun Sen, a self-styled strongman who turned 71 on Saturday, to take on a key CPP role to protect his son from internal competition and allow him to earn legitimacy among the public and networks of power Hun Sen detailed his long record of service on Monday and made clear he would be sticking around longer.
“I will continue serving in other positions at least until 2033,” he remarked. “Thank you, my dear wife, for raising this unfortunate child during the hardest times so he can become the nation’s top leader today.” The legislature is expected to meet on Aug. 22 to vote to approve Hun Manet, who has given no clues on his vision for Cambodia and its 16 million people.