Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni has appointed Hun Manet as the new leader of the nation, replacing his father, Prime Minister Hun Sen. Hun Sen is stepping down from his position after nearly forty years of rule characterized by stringent governance.
In an official proclamation, King Norodom Sihamoni has named Dr Hun Manet as the prime minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia for the 7th parliamentary term, as reported by AFP.
In a royal decree, King Norodom Sihamoni appointed Dr Hun Manet as the “prime minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia for the 7th mandate of the parliament”.
Yet, for him to formally assume the role of the nation’s upcoming leader, the 45-year-old and his team must secure a vote of confidence in parliament scheduled for August 22.
The incoming administration will introduce a new generation of ministers, including some filling positions left by their fathers.
While affirming non-interference in his son’s governance, Hun Sen also assured Cambodians of his ongoing influence in the country’s political landscape.
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Hun Sen’s legacy and a controversial succession
Taking office in 1985, Hun Sen played a pivotal role in modernising a nation ravaged by civil strife and genocide. However, detractors argue that his tenure has been marred by environmental degradation, deep-seated corruption, and the elimination of virtually all political opponents.
Last month’s elections drew condemnation from the United States, United Nations, and the European Union, citing a lack of fairness and freedom. Despite these allegations, Hun Sen rejected them, asserting that his dynastic succession, though likened by some to North Korea, would ensure peace and prevent turmoil upon his potential passing while in office.
He cautioned that should there be a significant threat to Hun Manet’s life, he would return to the role of prime minister.
Uncharted territory for Hun Manet
While groomed for years to take over the leadership, the eldest son of Cambodia’s authoritative ruler remains untested in the political arena, experts contend.
Despite receiving an education in both England and the United States, there are limited expectations that Hun Manet will veer towards a more liberal course, given his affiliation with the ruling party’s influential permanent committee.
Since 2018, he has held the position of commander for the Royal Cambodian Army and has engaged with world leaders, including China’s President Xi Jinping, a key ally and patron of Cambodia.
After stepping down, Hun Sen’s future roles include becoming the president of the Senate early next year and assuming the role of acting head of state during the king’s overseas absences.