Cambodia legislature approves Hun Manet as new prime minister

By Reuters, AFP   August 21, 2023 | 06:16 pm PT
Cambodia legislature approves Hun Manet as new prime minister
Hun Manet, nominee for Cambodia's prime minister, gestures as he registers at the National Assembly on the day that parliament votes to confirm the country's next prime minister, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, August 22, 2023. Photo by Reuters
Cambodia's National Assembly on Tuesday approved Hun Manet as the country's new prime minister, in a historic transfer of power from his father Hun Sen after 38 years in charge of the Southeast Asian nation.

Hun Manet, 45, a Western-educated, four-star military general, won the support of an overwhelming majority of the 125 lawmakers present.

The vote completes a dynastic transfer long in the making, which sees Hun Manet move from the premier's bodyguard unit to the seat of power.

Hun Sen last month announced his resignation, three days after claiming a landslide victory in a one-sided election that the ruling party was guaranteed to win after having silenced all viable opposition.

Hun Manet, already a member of the ruling Cambodian People's Party's (CPP) powerful permanent committee, has served as commander of the Royal Cambodian Army since 2018.

Born on October 20, 1977, the princeling graduated from West Point in 1999 and has more recently met world leaders including President Xi Jinping of China - Cambodia's main ally and benefactor.

Western education

Hun Sen has trailed the handover to his son for a year and a half but he has also made it clear that he intends to wield influence after he steps down, scotching the notion the country could change direction when Hun Manet assumes power.

While Hun Sen's politics are shaped by his experiences of revolution and war as a young man during the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime in the 1970s, his son was raised in luxury and educated abroad.

Married with two daughters and a son, Hun Manet holds a PhD in economics from the University of Bristol in Britain.

He was also the first Cambodian to graduate from the prestigious U.S. military academy.

He has also served in leadership roles in the ruling CPP's youth movement, his father's bodyguard unit and the counterterrorism special forces.

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