Machinations of political succession in Cambodia

At US$30 million, the cost of the Cambodian People’s Party’s new headquarters in Phnom Penh was a drop in the ocean for a ruling party with its hands deep in the pockets of the wealthy. But opening the gaudy symbol of power (always distrust those who like massive doorways) was a sign of something more symbolic – a new, shiny renewal for a party about to undergo a generational shift.

Recent weeks have seen greater speculation than usual about a dynastic handover in Cambodia, likely to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son, Hun Manet, 43, who now commands the military, is a member of the ruling party’s elite Permanent Committee, and was made head of the party’s youth structure last month.

Recently Hun Sen, 67, has also spoken more often than usual about succession, oscillating between it being a sure thing soon or a mere possibility a decade from now. This has attracted commentary, from journalist Luke Hunt in The Diplomat (“Hun Manet Still a Long Way From Cambodia’s Top Job” on July 8) and academic Kimkong Heng in The Interpreter (“Hun Manet: A Cambodian dynasty?” on June 26).

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