Prime Minister Hun Sen declared on Wednesday he will take the powerful position of Cambodian People's Party president should ailing incumbent Chea Sim pass away.
During a speech inaugurating the opening of CPP Senator and longtime close ally Mong Reththy's coconut oil factory, the premier also sought douse any suggestion that he was considering retiring his existing powers.
“We pray for Samdech Chea Sim to have a long life even if he couldn’t work but he is still the president of CPP and Senate, but in case he passes away the person who will be the president of party is Hun Sen and president of senate will be Say Chhum.”
Holding the position of both CPP secretary-general and Senate first deputy president, Say Chhum has long been considered a strong candidate to succeed to Chea Sim as party president.
He is considered something of a middle man between the two major factions in the party and as such a potentially conciliatory choice for Senate presidency.
Political analyst Chea Vannath said she believed Hun Sen's designs on the party presidency had been brewing for along time and that his power to make such decisions was well established now.
“We’ve talked about the [Chea Sim] faction for maybe two decades now, but it seems [the party members] are united and are staying in the same boat. Maybe there is some friction, but not strong enough to divide the whole party, so far,” she said.
“The old guard are getting older now, and when you’re getting old you have no energy to rock the boat.”