Cambodia’s Leadership Succession: One Small Step Further

Prime Minister Hun Sen proposed his eldest son Hun Manet as his successor. But he did not name a date – and many further questions remain unanswered.

For years, it has been an open secret that Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Sen has been grooming his eldest son Hun Manet as his successor. But the announcement on December 2 came as a surprise, given that it did not seem urgent and the succession is likely to be merely prospective sometime later this decade. After all, Hun Sen, 69, has ruled Cambodia since 1985, enjoys continued good health, and dominates the country almost at will, as does his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), which has been in power since the fall of the Khmer Rouge in 1979. And therein lies the great challenge of the transition: how does someone who has acquired such a degree of power step down without disrupting the fabric of the party and the state?

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