Cambodian Journalists Alliance Association

Hun Manet to Run as Candidate in National Assembly Elections

Hun Manet, commander of the Cambodian Royal Army, is slated to run as the CPP’s leading candidate for Phnom Penh. (Hun Manet Facebook)
Hun Manet, commander of the Cambodian Royal Army, is slated to run as the CPP’s leading candidate for Phnom Penh. (Hun Manet Facebook)

Hun Manet will run as the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) leading candidate for the Phnom Penh national assembly in the July elections, according to a March 31 letter signed by his father, Prime Minister Hun, in his role as the party president. The letter was confirmed by CPP spokesperson Sok Eysan.

The decision further indicates maneuvering to prepare Hun Manet to assume his father’s nearly four decades-long role as leader of the ruling CPP. His father has run as the CPP’s first candidate in Kandal province for each of the past six elections. Candidates for each province assume office based on their ranking in the candidate list and the percentage of votes their party receives.

The Prime Minister will be selected by the winning party after the elections and submitted to King Norodom Sihamoni for royal endorsement, Eysan said. 

When asked by CamboJA if Hun Manet would assume the Prime Minister’s role following elections, Eysan said: “[I] don’t know, wait for the royal decree of the King, we will know.”

Political analyst Meas Nee predicted that Hun Sen would transfer power to Hun Manet soon after the election, once it was clear the CPP had vanquished any opposition and held a firm grip on power. 

“I can say the transferring power [to his son] will start at the beginning of this mandate,” Nee said. “We have seen how there has been a mobilization [of resources] to ensure His Excellency Hun Manet will be ready to assume a suitable place in line with the existing ruling party’s policy.”

In February last year, Manet was unanimously endorsed by the CPP’s Central Committee as their future candidate for prime minister. Manet serves as commander of the Cambodian Royal Army, head of the anti-terrorism forces and deputy commander-in-chief of the Royal Cambodian Air Force. Manet was promoted to the rank of four star general on March 17. 

Prime Minister Hun Sen lashed out at analysts who criticized Hun Manet’s quick military promotions. Hun Manet was made a three star general in 2013.

“You [analysts] say that it is certain [Hun Manet] will become the Prime Minister, even if you try to prevent it, you will not be able to do so,” he said at a March 22 speech to university students.

As with other members of the military running for office, Manet will have to suspend his military roles once the CPP submits a list of candidates to the National Election Committee (NEC) in late April or early May, Eysan said.

The NEC’s schedule offers a 15-day application window between April 24 and May 8 for the registration of political parties to submit the list of candidates to participate in the national elections.

The leading opposition group, Candlelight Party, said they are ready to compete with the ruling CPP but have not yet selected who will serve as their party’s candidate for Prime Minister. Candlight’s co-Vice President Son Chhay, who lost a $1 million defamation lawsuit brought against him by the CPP, tops the list of 12 candidates for Phnom Penh. Another co-Vice President Thach Setha was jailed earlier this year on old allegations of fraudulent checks.

“We have enough candidates, there is no problem,” said Candlelight spokesperson Kim Souphearing, regarding a prospective candidate for Prime Minister. “We have not yet considered, and will wait until we win the election.”