Former Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that opposition groups should be wise enough to understand that the Cambodian government has legitimacy at the UN, no matter whether during his tenure as prime minister, or under the leadership of current Prime Minister Hun Manet.

Hun Sen posted several pictures of himself addressing previous UN General Assemblies, alongside images of Manet addressing the UNGA 78 on September 22 in New York, and Manet shaking hands UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres.

“The opposition should understand politics and legitimacy. The UN does not discriminate, whether it is Hun Sen or Hun Manet. If he is a legitimate prime minister of Cambodia, he has the opportunity to address the assembly, like the leaders of other member states,” Hun Sen said, via social media.

Hun Sen’s comments came after Manet arrived in the US, where he was welcomed by members of the Cambodian diaspora. There were also a small number of protesters who are aligned with opposition groups.

In New York, he had met with several foreign diplomats and leaders, including General Jim Jones, former US national security advisor, Victoria Nuland, acting deputy secretary of state, Penny Wong, Australian foreign minister and Jeffrey David Sachs, director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

Manet also addressed a US-Cambodia business forum.

Government spokesman Pen Bona reiterated that Manet earned public support through the recent national election, in which 82 per cent of the ballots were cast for the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). In the US, Cambodians living there – and in neighbouring countries – also came to show support for him.

“This is a clear sign of the support of the majority of Cambodians, from both home and abroad, that is enjoyed by the CPP-led government, with Manet succeeding from Hun Sen,” he said.