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Thursday, June 20, 2024

Cambodian Parliament Approves Longtime Leader’s Son as Prime Minister as Part of Generational Change

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PHNOM PENH, Cambodia (AP) — The son of longtime autocratic Cambodian leader Hun Sen was approved by Parliament on Tuesday as the country’s new prime minister, part of a generational change in top positions in the Southeast Asian nation.

Hun Manet, 45, won his first seat in the National Assembly in the July elections and takes over from his father, who had been Asia’s longest-serving leader with nearly four decades in power, after serving as Cambodia’s army chief.

He was approved by lawmakers unanimously and is to be officially sworn in later Tuesday.

Even though he’s at the head of a Cabinet made up of about 3/4 new faces, most are the children or are otherwise related to those they are replacing, and experts caution against expecting broad changes in the country where human rights have been under attack and dissent suppressed.

“There is not a big difference between the generations in political outlook, including in terms of how open or how competitive politics should be,” said Astrid Norén-Nilsson, a Cambodia expert at Sweden’s Lund University.

“The generational transition is designed to keep the power of the political-cum-business elite intact and perpetuate neo-patrimonial arrangements.”

In a widely anticipated move, Hun Sen announced that Hun Manet, his oldest son, would succeed him as prime minister shortly after his Cambodian People’s Party won a landslide victory in July elections criticized by Western governments and rights groups as neither free nor fair because the main credible opposition party was barred from participating.

His Cabinet includes Tea Seiha, who will be replacing his father, Tea Banh, as minister of National Defense, and Sar Sokha, who is replacing his father, Sar Kheng, as minister of the Interior. Both are also to serve as deputy prime ministers.

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