Prime Minister Hun Sen is pulling for Donald Trump to win next week’s U.S. presidential election because the Republican nominee would bring peace to the world, he said on Thursday, joining world dictators Kim Jong Un, Robert Mugabe and Vladimir Putin in their endorsement of the former reality television star.
“For me, to be frank, I do want to see Trump win,” Mr. Hun Sen told an audience of about 2,000 trainees at the Police Academy of Cambodia in Kandal province.
“If Trump wins, the world can change and have a good situation because Trump is a businessman. Trump does business so Trump would not want to have war.”
Mr. Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton are locked in an acrimonious election campaign that has featured accusations of racism, corruption, tax avoidance and groping. Ms. Clinton stood 6 percentage points ahead in the latest Reuters/Ipsos poll, though other surveys have the race closer.
A self-proclaimed billionaire with a real estate empire, Mr. Trump has run on a platform of keeping out Mexican migrants and dismantling health care reforms, as well as selling himself as a tough negotiator that will ensure that the U.S. isn’t fleeced by foreign countries.
Mr. Hun Sen on Thursday offered an analysis of the possible outcomes in the election, warning of tensions in global affairs and noting how Ms. Clinton had advised U.S President Barack Obama to attack Syria when she was secretary of state.
“Considering this, if the Democratic Party is elected the situation might not be easy,” Mr. Hun Sen said. “Relations between China and the U.S. can be manageable, but those between the U.S. and Russia will be difficult.”
“If Trump is elected, there can be friendship between Trump and Putin,” he added.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy, however, blasted Mr. Hun Sen’s logic—as well as Mr. Trump’s character—and said he stood firmly in Ms. Clinton’s corner.
“Ms. Clinton is more educated, more broadminded, more inclusive. She seems to care more about social justice,” Mr. Rainsy said in an email.
“On the contrary, Trump—with his fiery character and bad temper—seems to be dangerous for world peace.”
Mr. Hun Sen and Mr. Trump were two of a kind, the opposition leader said.
“Birds of the same feather flock together. Trump seems to believe in the absolute power of money. Hun Sen seems to believe in the absolute power of the gun coupled with money,” Mr. Rainsy said. “Trump and Hun Sen are definitely not democrats (with a small d).”
Commentators also said that Mr. Hun Sen and a hypothetical President Trump would likely find themselves aligned by a disregard for democracy and human rights.
“In fact, Hun Sen joins a long list of dictators who have endorsed him,” said Lee Morgenbesser, a research fellow at Australia’s Griffith University who specializes in Southeast Asian politics.
“The clearest benefit of a Trump presidency for Hun Sen would be considerable softening of America’s position regarding the state of democracy and human rights in Cambodia. This would be historic in itself,” he said.
Autocrats around the world have been drawing ever closer, making Mr. Hun Sen’s endorsement “probably the least surprising thing to occur in Cambodian politics this year,” he added. “Dictators are increasingly cooperating in new and innovative ways to defend their common interests.”
Sophal Ear, associate professor of diplomacy and world affairs at Occidental College in Los Angeles,
described Mr. Trump’s ascent as “the rise of know-nothings” and said Mr. Hun Sen had much in common with the Republican nominee.
“He and Trump are peas in a pod. Trump exhibits clear tendencies that are autocratic bordering on dictatorial, even fascist,” Mr. Ear said in an email. “He hates the press. Wants to sue them. He is thin-skinned. He always has to be right, even when he’s totally wrong. If you look around the world, several leaders like him and they all have non-democratic tendencies.”
William Conklin, the organizer for Democrats Abroad Cambodia, who is also the country director for the Solidarity Center, a U.S.-based labor advocacy group, was cautious about commenting on Mr. Hun Sen’s endorsement, saying that in Cambodia “you walk a fine line.”
However, he said Mr. Trump appeared to lack presidential qualities, such as the ability to listen and advance diplomatic solutions.
“You need to be able to not jump to snap judgments. Now, these aren’t necessarily qualities that Trump has portrayed from what we’ve seen in his speeches,” Mr. Conklin said.
Mr. Hun Sen’s endorsement was unlikely to be a factor as Americans head to the polls, or cast their votes from abroad, he added.
“I don’t think it makes much difference one way or another whether one world leader endorses a candidate.”