During its Friday conference, the central committee of the Cambodian People’s Party endorsed Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son, Hun Manet, as the next likely head of the national government.
Hun Sen will be the party’s prime minister candidate for the 2023 election, with his son expected to appear on the ballot in 2028. The CPP also elected two more party vice presidents in Tea Banh, the minister of defense, and Men Sam An, one of the 10 current deputy prime ministers. The two will join the existing vice presidents Say Chhum, a Senate president, and Interior Minister Sar Kheng, according to a party announcement.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said that the party’s central committee introduced only Manet as a future prime minister candidate, though the actual timeline of succession is yet to be determined.
“Only him [Hun Manet], was endorsed by 775 out of 865 members of the party’s central committee without any vote,” he said. “He is just the party’s future PM candidate and we do not know where, it depends on the situation.”
Eysan said the party found it necessary to add two vice presidents to divide the heavy workload now spread between Say Chhum and Sar Kheng.
“We have added two more vice presidents to be permanently stationed at the headquarters to solve the party’s affairs more effectively and this is what we called the party’s structure reform,” he said.
Hun Sen had publicly announced on December 2 his support for his eldest son as his potential successor as prime minister. He claimed the announcement came in response to critics who have long accused him of paving the way for his son to take over as Cambodia’s next leader.
However, Hun Sen had previously said Manet would not be alone as the party’s next prime minister candidate. He had mentioned Aun Porn Moniroth, the minister of economy and finance, as another potential candidate.
But Manet has long been believed to be the main candidate to succeed his father, since he has been continuously promoted within Cambodia’s armed forces. In 2018, Manet was appointed commander of the Royal Cambodian Army.
Manet is also the deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces and, at the age of 44, is head of the CPP’s youth wing.
Hun Sen had previously announced that he would continue serving as prime minister for another 10 years, or at least by 2028.
Political analyst Seng Sary said Manet has passed the first step in the party but still needs to be accepted at a later time by the public. However, after winning the party endorsement, Manet would be able to become the prime minister at any time during the next government mandate.
“It depends on the situation, it is up to the Prime Minister Hun Sen who will see when the right time for his son to become prime minister,” Sary said.