Cambodia's Hun Sen marks birthday with election victory confirmation

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen speaks during an inauguration ceremony for the Phnom Penh ring road No.3 in Kandal Province on August 3, 2023. Cambodia's outgoing leader Hun Sen marked his 71st birthday Saturday with official confirmation of his ruling party's landslide win in recent one-sided polls, paving the way for a smooth power handover to his eldest son. - AFP

PHNOM PENH (AFP): Cambodia's outgoing leader Hun Sen marked his 71st birthday Saturday with official confirmation of his ruling party's landslide win in recent one-sided polls, paving the way for a smooth transfer of power to his eldest son.

Last month's election was widely decried as a sham after the opposition Candlelight Party -- the top challenger to the ruling party -- was barred from the contest over a technicality.

Hun Sen -- who has ruled for nearly four decades -- announced days after the polls that he was stepping down as prime minister and passing the baton to Hun Manet.

His ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP) won 120 seats in the 125-member lower house, the National Election Committee said as it released the official results Saturday.

Immediately after the announcement, the CPP issued a statement saying it accepted the results, which they said proved Cambodians "support Hun Manet as the successor".

The royalist FUNCINPEC party took the remaining five seats.

The election committee also confirmed that four-star general Hun Manet, 45, was elected as an MP, a requirement for him to become prime minister.

The United States, United Nations and the European Union have condemned the election as neither free nor fair.

The official results allow Hun Sen to proceed with his plan to ask the king to appoint Hun Manet as prime minister on Monday so he can form a new government for a parliamentary confidence vote on August 22.

The incoming government will usher in a new crop of young ministers -- with some taking posts vacated by their fathers.

On Thursday, Hun Sen rejected international criticism of the elections and defended his decision to hand power to his son.

He said his handover to Hun Manet -- a dynastic succession compared by some critics to North Korea -- was being done to maintain peace and avoid "bloodshed" should he die in office.

Hun Manet on Saturday posted a picture on social media of his young son handing his father a bouquet of blue and yellow flowers with the message: "Happy birthday to respected and beloved father".

The former Khmer Rouge cadre has run Cambodia since 1985, and has effectively eliminated all opposition to his power, with rival parties banned, challengers forced to flee and freedom of expression stifled.

He helped modernise a country ravaged by decades of civil war and genocide with roads, mega-malls and substantial Chinese investment.

After stepping down as prime minister, Hun Sen will become president of the Senate early next year and will be acting head of state when the king is overseas. - AFP

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Cambodia , Hun Sen , Big Birthday Bash


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