Hun Sen, 64, cannot rule Cambodia forever. Source: Flickr
Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen’s youngest son, Hun Many, has revealed his desire to succeed his father, although he did not mention his plans for the next general election in July 2018.
He told Vayo Radio: “Becoming prime minister is my intention as well as [the intention] of other young people.”
The 33-year-old member of parliament represents Kampong Speu province and is head of the country’s youth federation. “The role of prime minister is not a position, but is a great honour to serve the country responsibly and to make sure to lead its direction and keep peace and maintain continued development,” he said.
In October, Hun Many was awarded the Gusi Peace Prize, given for promoting peace and progress in society by Manila’s Gusi Peace Prize Foundation. His father dominates all aspects of Cambodian society, a country he has run for 30 years since he was installed by then occupier Vietnam.
Yim Sovann, spokesman for the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), welcomed Hun Many’s comment, and said he did not consider it an obstacle for his party, but added that the 2018 election must be conducted freely and fairly without any political threats.
The CNRP boycotted parliament for a year following the contentious 2013 general election in which Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) was named the winner by the government-appointed National Election Committee despite claims of widespread irregularities.
It was long believed that Hun Sen, 63, was grooming his eldest son, Hun Manet, to succeed him in office. Lieutenant General Hun Manet, 38, heads Cambodia’s counterterrorism department and graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point. His public profile has exceeded that of his siblings in recent years.
Hun Sen recently appointed his second son, Hun Manith, 34, as head of military intelligence, seen as a move to tighten the family’s grip on power. The prime minister also has two daughters. Hun Sen has said he would remain in power until at least 2018.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the purpose of Many’s comments was probably to motivate young people, as opposed to expressing his personal ambitions.
“In my opinion, it does not reflect the party’s policy,” said Eysan.
“His Excellency Hun Many is also the head of the Union of Youth Federations of Cambodia so his comment is to encourage youths to have high hopes,” he said.
“This is not about being a successor, as it will make some people think that Hun Sen will pass through to his children and grandchildren. It’s not like that.”