Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Monday that only his ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) “is capable of ensuring peace” and that he intended to serve in office until the opposition was “destroyed”.
Speaking at the inauguration of Lower Sesan II dam – now Cambodia’s largest hydropower facility – on Stung Treng province’s Sesan river on Monday, Hun Sen said he expected to live at least another 40 years.
“If we talk about age, I will live at least 40 more years because I need to serve for two more mandates [10 years]. I will serve as prime minister until the opposition group is destroyed because only Hun Sen is capable of confronting these evil people. Do not let them destroy our peace,” he said.
The prime minister, who has served in his role for over 30 years, added that “only the CPP is capable of ensuring peace, which is the foundation of development.”
Hun Sen also seized the occasion to thank CPP supporters for defeating the Supreme Court-dissolved Cambodia National Rescue Party’s (CNRP) so-called “sleep at home” or “clean finger” political campaign, which urged Cambodian’s not to participate in July’s national elections to protest the party’s dissolution.
“I would like to take the occasion to thank people in Stung Treng in particular and people nationwide in general that have supported CPP. The first meaning of elections is to participate in the democratisation process, and this defeated the ‘sleep at home, clean finger’ campaign,” he said.
In the July election, the CPP enjoyed a landslide victory, winning all 125 parliamentary seats for the first time since Cambodia’s inaugural democratic elections in 1993.
“That ‘sleep at home’ campaign was illogical . . . how can you think of such words? Eighty-three per cent of people went to vote. They voted to maintain peace and development via voting for the CPP,” the prime minister said.
The 66-year-old CPP president has previously said that he intended to serve as Cambodia’s prime minister for a further 10 years, or two more terms, if the public supported his leadership.
In September last year, he said he had decided to continue in office after a video emerged that showed then president of the CNRP, Kem Sokha, allegedly planning to topple the government.
“Lately, I’ve been hesitating about when I will leave. But, after witnessing the betrayal by some Cambodians [Kem Sokha] who have since been arrested, I decided to continue holding office for at least another 10 years,” Hun Sen said at the time.
In August, he predicted that he would beat the record for the world’s longest-serving non-royal leader, a title currently held by Cameroonian president Paul Biya, 85, who has been in charge of the West African nation for 43 years.
“I have been in power for 33 years now . . . almost 34 years. Add five more years and it will be 39 years. Then add five more years and it will be 44 years, and then I will be first in the world – Hun Sen breaks the record!” he joked.