The eldest son of Prime Minister Hun Sen vowed to maintain peace in Cambodia when he takes over as head of the government next month, saying on Facebook and Telegram that he’ll also aim “to ensure the development and tranquility of the people.”
Hun Manet’s message on Thursday came a day after his father announced he would hand over the prime minister position next month.
The 45-year-old posted a photo along with the message that shows Hun Sen dressed in a military uniform and standing in a jeep at a 2019 anniversary celebration for the Royal Cambodian Army Command’s headquarters.
Hun Manet, who until recently served as deputy commander of Cambodia’s armed forces, is also dressed in uniform in a second jeep following just behind Hun Sen.
“My father’s word that I will always remember and be determined to apply in all circumstances: ‘When you become the prime minister of Cambodia, you must maintain peace to ensure the development and tranquility of the people,’” Hun Manet wrote.
Hun Manet’s statement is welcome, but “peace” doesn’t just refer to “no war,” said Ny Sokha, the president of the Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) NGO. It must also include respect for human rights, social justice and social equality, he said.
“Determination is not enough. It needs real practice so that people can believe in him,” he told RFA. “We are waiting to see what priority issues he will address after he officially becomes the new prime minister of Cambodia.”
Peace and the political opposition
Hun Sen, 70, has served as prime minister since 1985. He told reporters on Wednesday that a new Hun Manet-led government would be formed on Aug. 22, after the National Election Committee officially reports the results from Sunday’s election.
Preliminary results show the ruling Cambodian People’s Party winning 120 of 125 seats in the National Assembly in the July 23 vote, which included Hun Manet as a first-time candidate for parliament from Phnom Penh. Critics have said the tightly controlled election was neither free nor fair.
Hun Sen was a signatory to the 1991 Paris Peace Accords and often touts his “win-win” initiative to persuade the remaining bands of Khmer Rouge guerillas to lay down arms in the 1990s.
He has also methodically co-opted all political opposition over the years, and he often points out that his long reign as prime minister has brought peace and economic development to Cambodia after decades of civil war.
In the months leading up to last Sunday’s election, Hun Sen persuaded dozens of opposition activists to switch their allegiance to the CPP, while others were threatened with legal action.
“Now Hun Sen uses the word peace to arrest and put people in prison,” Chea You Horn, the president of the Khmer Association of Victoria in Australia, told Radio Free Asia last month.
Men Sothavrin, a former parliamentarian from the now-banned Cambodia National Rescue Party, said Hun Manet appears to be copying his father’s dictatorship style.
“Hun Manet must show that he is different from his father and never repeat his father’s dictatorship,” he said. “He must reinstate genuine multi-party democracy and respect human rights, especially political rights, freedom of press and expression.”
Source: Radio Free Asia