Cambodia’s strongman prime minister handed sweeping new powers

Hun Sen latest authoritarian leader to be granted more sway during coronavirus pandemic.

Cambodia’s lower house has approved a law that will give its prime minister sweeping powers “when the nation is in danger”, marking the latest move by a strongman leader to exploit the coronavirus pandemic to consolidate power.

Ahead of the bill’s passing, human rights campaigners said it would give the 67-year-old Hun Sen, one of the world’s longest-serving leaders, the ability to run the country by fiat.

It comes at a time when authoritarian leaders such as Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban and Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte have passed emergency legislation to fight the pandemic but which critics say would also allow them to strengthen their personal power.

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