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Friday, September 22, 2023

Cambodia’s Hun Sen Steps Down, Son to Assume PM Role

China congratulated Hun Sen on his election victory

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CAMBODIA: Cambodia’s prime minister, Hun Sen, plans to step down and transfer power to his eldest son after nearly four decades of rule. Since 1985, a former Khmer Rouge member has ruled the nation, banning competing parties and imprisoning opponents.

The Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won a resounding 82% vote in an election, opening the path for dynastic succession to his eldest son. The 70-year-old announced his resignation as prime minister, asking for understanding from the people. The announcement was made during a special broadcast on state television.

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The CPP is predicted to win all but five lower house seats, despite the Candlelight Party’s dismissal due to technicality. The government praised the 84.6% participation rate as proof of the nation’s “democratic maturity,” while Western countries like the US and EU denounced the election as neither free nor fair.

Hun Manet, 45, played a major role in the 23 July election campaign this year and was frequently seen addressing rallies alongside his father, who has ruled the Southeast Asian country of 16 million people since 1985.

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Under Hun Sen, Cambodia has adopted a close stance to Beijing and benefited from significant Chinese infrastructure investments, including the renovation of a naval facility, which has unnerved Washington.

China congratulated Hun Sen on his election victory, and President Xi Jinping personally congratulated him. However, Chinese money has led to increased casinos, internet fraud, and environmental damage. Cambodia ranks 150th in Transparency International’s corruption perception index, with Myanmar and North Korea being lower in Asia.

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Activists, legislators, and union leaders are among the opposition challengers. Hun Sen is accused of being stifled by rights groups for using the judicial system as leverage. During his tenure, numerous opposition politicians were found guilty and sentenced to prison. 

The legislation was modified to make it unlawful to urge voter tampering. Exiled opposition leader Sam Rainsy was disqualified from running for 25 years before the election. Kem Sokha, found guilty of treason and sentenced to 27 years, is under home arrest until he completes his sentence.

Also Read: Hun Sen’s Grip Tightens as Cambodian People’s Party Secures an Unopposed Win


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