Prime Minister Hun Sen announced Tuesday that he will stay in politics until rice yields increase, poverty is slashed and average annual income increases to $3,000.
On Monday, Hun Sen said he would retire if he was ever voted out of office. But on Tuesday, he said he had changed his mind and now plans to continue his political career until he hits 90.
Hun Sen attributed his change of heart to comments made by an unnamed individual who appeared to be Committee for Free and Fair Elections Director Koul Panha.
“[The individual] said that when I have done enough successfully I should step down,” Hun Sen said in a speech in Phnom Penh that was broadcast on Apsara Radio. “I would like to tell you that I haven’t succeeded yet,” he added. “Because of your comment I will stand [for office] until I am 90 years old.”
Koul Panha said Monday that Hun Sen should not use elections as a gauge of whether he should step down, and that leaders should retire when they have done enough for the country.
On Tuesday, Koul Panha declined to say whether he thought the comments were directed at him, but said he stands by his remarks.
“This is my general comment—leaders can make their own decisions,” he said.
In his speech, Hun Sen also accused Comfrel of being biased against him.
“I don’t know what they really do—they are the Committee for Free and Fair Elections and they prevent [me] from being voted for,” he said.
Hun Sen also claimed that the unnamed individual was “leading the country to be fragile and at war.”
“If you are too stupid, please go cultivate rice, and if you come from overseas, you should return,” he added.
Theary Seng, director of the Center for Social Development, said Comfrel is doing a good job and that Hun Sen should be more measured in his response to the opinions of others.
“If he does have a reason to be angry, he should deal with it in a more reasoned and rational way,” she added.
(Additional reporting by John Maloy.)