Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Hun Sen tapped as party chief

Hun Sen tapped as party chief

A float carries a portrait of former CPP president Chea Sim on the weekend
A float carries a portrait of former CPP president Chea Sim on the weekend during his procession through the city. Kimberley McCosker

Hun Sen tapped as party chief

As expected, members of the central committee of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Saturday elected Prime Minister and former party vice president Hun Sen into the party’s top slot to replace the late Chea Sim.

In the package vote, the party also elected Interior Minister Sar Kheng and newly elected Senate President Say Chhum to replace Hun Sen as co-vice presidents, causing some speculation as to why the party opted to choose two new deputies in his stead.

Five hundred eight out of the total 545 members of the committee attended the congress on Saturday at the party’s main headquarters on Phnom Penh’s Norodom Boulevard. The election came after the death of Sim, the long-serving former party president, on June 8 due to illness and old age, according to a CPP statement issued after the closed-door meeting.

“Congress [participants] directly and secretly voted for Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen to be president of the party,” the statement read, adding that “Samdech Vibol Sena Pheakdei Say Chhum, and Samdech Kralahom Sar Kheng, were elected as CPP Vice Presidents”.

Additionally, Say Chhum will also continue to hold his position as the party’s secretary-general.

Shortly after the selection, the CPP issued a separate statement reiterating that Hun Sen would remain prime minister and maintain his candidacy for the next national election after rumours swirled that he would give up his premiership Minister of Information Khieu Kanharith on his Facebook page paraphrased a speech by Hun Sen given at the congress in which he warned CPP officials not to ignore their duties while continuing to milk the legacy of January 7, 1979, when members of the ruling party toppled the Khmer Rouge regime with Vietnamese backing.

“Please, CPP officials, don’t sleep and corrode the legacy of January 7, but actively serve and promote the needs of citizens,” he wrote on Saturday.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan yesterday also said that Hun Sen has advised all party officials to work hard to “successfully implement our political platform to gain more support from the Cambodian people”.

Opposition representatives could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Political commentator Ou Virak said that while Hun Sen’s selection was expected, the selection of two vice presidents had raised eyebrows.

“The question is why they decided to do that,” he said. “The CPP came out and said because of my criticism that they needed two [vice presidents] to help with the workload, but that doesn’t make any sense. You have one president, two vice presidents and one secretary general, but only three people. It has to be something beyond the workload.”

Virak suggested that having two “second men” may be a means of keeping those below Hun Sen appeased.

Additional reporting by Ethan Harfenist

MOST VIEWED

  • Virus tops 84 with new cases in S’ville

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday night confirmed another 31 cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the Kingdom’s total to 84 and it highest daily tally. There have been no fatalities thus far. The latest cases were found in 29 French tourists and their two Cambodian tour guides

  • Kingdom’s virus toll tops 84, Cambodians in Thailand rush home

    The Ministry of Health on Sunday night confirmed another 31 cases of coronavirus infections, bringing the Kingdom’s total to 84 and its highest daily tally. There have been no fatalities thus far. The latest cases were found in 29 French tourists and their two Cambodian tour guides

  • NBC calls for cashless payments

    The National Bank of Cambodia (NBC) has urged government ministries, financial institutions and the public to conduct cashless payments via electronic systems where possible to combat the spread of Covid-19. “To contribute to the prevention of Covid-19, the National Bank of Cambodia encourages financial institutions

  • Mysterious century-old structure found at bottom of Angkor pond

    The Apsara National Authority (ANA) has discovered a mysterious 1,000-year-old structure of a wooden building at the bottom of a pond after the Angkor Wat temple’s conservation team completed restoring its northern cave. The deputy director at ANA’s Angkor International Research and Documentation

  • CEO held for fraud in Siem Reap

    Over 200 individuals gathered in front of the Siem Reap Provincial Court last week to ask that Dim Suonnath, the CEO of a real estate company being held for fraud, take responsibility for compensating some 2,000 residents who invested with him. The request was denied. Suonnath responded

  • Ministry calls for home schooling

    Minister of Education, Youth and Sport, Hang Chuon Naron appealed to parents of students to provide home education in a proper environment and help them obtain more learning materials. The ministry also allowed schools to take a premature vacation after several people tested positive for