OAN’s Shawntel Smith-Hill
10:55 AM – Thursday, July 27, 2023
70-year-old former Communist Khmer Rouge fighter, Hun Sen, announced that he would be handing the premiership to his oldest son, who won his first seat in Parliament in Sunday’s election, on Wednesday.
As Asia’s longest-ruling leader, Sen, has been Cambodia’s uncontested prime minister for nearly four decades, making strides to grow closer to China.
The leaders of the Cambodian People’s Party (CCP) won the weekend elections in a landslide victory. Western nations have raised concerns and criticized the elections as neither free nor fair, alluding to a suppression of the country’s main political opponents.
Following the elections, Hun Sen confirmed that he would hand over the job to his son, Hun Manet, during the next five year term of the position.
45-year-old Hun Manet is a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and currently holds the position-of-chief of the country’s army.
The Cambodian leader informed the King of the country, Norodom Sihamoni, of his decision, which the king had agreed to as a formality.
Reports from the National Election Commission noted that the results from Sunday’s election showed that the CCP won 120 of 125 seats.
Despite stepping down as prime minister, it is likely that Sen will remain closely involved in running the country and is highly expected to become president of the country’s Senate.
On the CPP’s final day of campaigning, tens of thousands of supporters packed a central square in the capital, where Manet said in a speech that the CPP had brought “peace, stability, and progress to the Cambodian people. “
“Voting for the Cambodian People’s Party is voting for yourselves,” he told the cheering crowd, promising to return Cambodia’s national pride to a “greater level than the glorious Angkor era” of the Khmer Empire centuries ago.
The CPP barred its political opponents from participating in the elections based on a technicality. This ensured that Cambodians had limited choice and ultimately voted to reelect the current ruling party.
Additionally, the arrest of several prominent figures in opposition to the CCP added to concerns over the fairness of the election.
“Authorities in Cambodia have spent the past five years picking apart what’s left of the rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly and association,” Amnesty International’s Montse Ferrer said Friday. “Many people feel that they are being forced to participate in this election despite their party of choice not being on the ballot.”
Following Sunday’s election results the European Union criticized the vote as having been “conducted in a restricted political and civic space where the opposition, civil society and the media were unable to function effectively without hindrance.”
The U.S. made a statement saying that it would impose strict visa restrictions “on individuals who undermined democracy and implemented a pause of foreign assistance programs” after determining the elections were “neither free nor fair.”
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