Cambodia’s outgoing Prime Minister Hun Sen lashed out Thursday at international criticism of elections his party won against no meaningful opposition, and defended his decision to hand power to his son as necessary to avoid bloodshed.
The 70-year-old has ruled Cambodia with an iron fist for nearly four decades but announced last week he was stepping down for his son Hun Manet to take over as PM this month.
The move came after his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won a landslide victory in an election last month condemned by the United States, United Nations and the European Union as not free or fair.
Election authorities disqualified the only serious opposition party on a technicality, paving the way for the CPP to win 82 percent of the vote and claim all but five seats in the 125-member lower house.
“I can declare that democracy in Cambodia has won,” Hun Sen said on Thursday in his first speech since the polls, insisting that the critics did not represent the whole international community.
He also defended his handover to Hun Manet – a dynastic succession compared by some critics to North Korea – maintaining it was needed to ensure peace in the country should he die in office.
“It could lead to bloodshed in order to grab power,” Hun Sen said, while denying there was a dispute among his senior party members over Hun Manet’s succession.
Threat to dissolve the main opposition party
He added that he would ask the king to appoint Hun Manet, 45, as prime minister on Monday so he could form a new government for a confidence vote in parliament on August 22.
The new government will be made up of a new crop of young ministers – some of them also taking posts vacated by their fathers.
Hun Sen went on to suggest that the Candlelight Party – Cambodia’s only serious political opposition – should be dissolved over its alleged link to exiled pro-democracy figurehead Sam Rainsy.
While insisting he would not interfere with his son’s rule, Hun Sen reaffirmed that he would continue to dominate the country’s politics.
After stepping down as PM, he will become president of the senate and act as acting head of state when the king is overseas.
The former Khmer Rouge cadre has run the kingdom since 1985, eliminating all opposition to his power, with rival parties banned, challengers forced to flee and freedom of expression stifled.
Source: Thanks france24