Cambodia: five decades on from the Khmer Rouge, Hun Sen proves himself the ultimate survivor with his plan to hand power to his son

Cambodia’s newly re-elected prime minister, Hun Sen, has confirmed he will hand over the premiership to his son, Hun Manet, in August after 38 years at the top of the country’s politics. Hun Sen, who has been at the helm of the Cambodian government since 1985, won a “landslide” general election victory on July 23.

That general election, the seventh of Cambodia’s modern era, was designed to display a transition of sorts back to a multi-party democracy after the country became a one-party state in 2018. The five seats won by the royalist Funcinpec party are claimed to be (token) evidence of this. In reality, the power of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) is unfettered.

A common mantra in Hun Sen’s rhetoric is “peace and stability”, something that particularly resonates with the prime minister’s contemporaries. But the reality of life in Cambodia is quite different – barely 10% of its population were adults when Hun Sen first became prime minister.

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