11 July 2024

Outgoing Cambodian ruler Hun Sen on Thursday unveiled the country’s new government, headed by his eldest son and including his youngest son and his nephew in senior roles.

Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won all but five of 125 seats in the lower house in July polls that were widely decried as a sham after the main opposition party was barred from running.

Days after the landslide victory, Hun Sen — one of the world’s longest-serving leaders — announced he was stepping down and handing power to his eldest son Hun Manet after nearly four decades of iron-fisted rule.

The Cambodian king on Monday appointed four-star general Hun Manet, 45, the country’s new leader, sealing the dynastic power transfer.

Hun Sen posted pictures to his Telegram channel of a meeting on Thursday of outgoing and new government ministers, including one showing Hun Manet flanked by some 30 incoming cabinet members.

Hun Manet later reposted the group photos, telling his followers that the most important factor for the CPP’s continued electoral dominance was the “solidarity and internal unity of the party”.

Hun Sen’s youngest son, Hun Many, will be the minister of civil service, while the sons of the interior and defence ministers will take over their fathers’ posts, according to a draft list of the new cabinet members seen by AFP.

The outgoing PM’s nephew, Neth Savoeun, currently the powerful national police chief, will be a deputy prime minister.

Former Khmer Rouge cadre Hun Sen, who has ruled since 1985, has rejected international condemnation that last month’s polls were unfair, saying the handover was done to avoid “bloodshed” should he die in office.

Rights groups accuse him of using the legal system to crush any opposition to his rule, jailing scores of activists.

After stepping down, Hun Sen will become president of the Senate early next year and acting head of state when the king is overseas.

He has said he will continue serving in other positions until at least 2033.

by AFP