Enter Cambodia’s Hun Manet

Numbers tell the story of a military leader working overtime on a presidential succession game plan.

Among its 133 indicators, the Lowy Institute’s Asia Power Index – an annual survey of the distribution of power in the region – tracks defence dialogues (the number of meetings held between senior defence officials) and diplomatic dialogues (meetings between foreign ministers and leaders). This data can reveal ways in which countries present themselves to the world. For example, Indonesia’s foreign minister is far more active on the global stage than the country’s head of government, while for Japan, the reverse is true.

One particularly interesting case highlighted by the Index is that of Hun Manet, the Commander of the Royal Cambodian Army. The son of Prime Minister Hun Sen, Hun Manet was trained at West Point in the United States and was announced as the future prime ministerial candidate for the Cambodian People’s Party in late 2021. While it may not be at the next election, scheduled for 23 July this year, observers note that the transition is already in progress.

Meanwhile, Hun Manet remains active in regional defence diplomacy, and in 2022 met with 29 senior defence officials – in addition to the defence ministers of Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Japan, China and India. This is consistent with his international engagements in previous years, and with those of Vong Pisen, Commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

In full: https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/enter-cambodia-s-hun-manet

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