Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday that a successor to his decades-long premiership will be a child from within the ruling CPP rather than from other political parties.
Speaking yesterday during a groundbreaking ceremony of a stretch of National Road 5 linking Battambang province to Serei Saophoan city in Banteay Meanchey province, Mr Hun Sen said those who would succeed him would be children from the Cambodian People’s Party.
Mr Hun Sen’s remarks on succession came after some opposition politicians spoke of the changing Khmer New Year angel every year, noting that the premier had not changed for more than 30 years.
“I told them that if they change the [Prime Minister], the replacement will still be a child from a devoted angel,” Mr Hun Sen said. “If the Prime Minister of Cambodia is changed, he must come from the Cambodian People’s Party because only children of an angel would succeed an angel.”
Mr Hun Sen first took office on January 14, 1985, becoming the world’s youngest prime minister at 32 years of age. He was elected by the National Assembly after having served as foreign minister.
He also recently vowed to rule the country for 10 more years after Kem Sokha, former leader of the now-dissolved opposition CNRP, was jailed on treason charges.
Mr Hun Sen said in September that he made the decision to stay on for another two mandates after finding out about Mr Sokha’s alleged plan to topple the government with the help of the US.
The Prime Minister urged workers and their families to vote for him in next year’s election, boasting of how he was the world’s longest-serving premier.
“Before I was hesitant about when to leave office, but after seeing the painful and treasonous acts in recent days, I decided to continue my work for another 10 years,” he said days after Mr Sokha’s arrest.
“I hope all of you will vote to support me,” he added.
In January, members of the CPP’s Permanent Central Committee voted to support Mr Hun Sen as the party’s premiership candidate in the upcoming national election on July 29.
Hang Pitou, a political analyst, said yesterday that what Mr Hun Sen meant was that only ruling CPP members could lead the nation.
“There are two requirements to choose a leader. First, we don’t care which political parties they come from but the candidate must be qualified. And second, people vote to elect their leader, even if they are from the CPP.”
“His successor cannot be appointed as the premier because they must go through the elections,” he added.
Sam Inn, secretary-general of the Grassroots Democratic Party, said Mr Hun Sen’s remarks were contradictory to liberal, multi-party democracy.
Mr Inn said that no single party was running the country because the Kingdom is a multi-party democracy.
“Not only a person from the CPP can lead the country,” he said. “I think it is not correct because other parties also have rights to run the country if people support them.”
“We want to send a message that not only children of the CPP can lead the country, because Cambodia belongs to all Khmer citizens” Mr Inn added.
He added that the GDP would field candidates to contest the upcoming election on July 29 to compete with the CPP.