In a clarification unlikely to affect today’s United States presidential election, Prime Minister Hun Sen yesterday said his recent praise for Republican candidate Donald Trump was not an endorsement.
Hun Sen on Thursday said he wanted Trump to win the ballot over rival Hillary Clinton because he believed the real estate developer and reality TV star’s potential to improve US-Russian relations would be good for world peace.
But speaking to students at a graduation ceremony on Phnom Penh’s Diamond Island yesterday, the premier said his comments were merely an analysis of the election’s possible outcomes.
“I just commented and explained to our internal [officials] about the possibilities of any candidate winning the election and about trends of the international political situation,” the premier said, adding as a world leader he had the same right to comment on politics as everybody else.
“I said I wanted Trump to win the election because if the Democratic Party wins, it means Hillary wins, and [although] relations between US and China would continue well, because they have a trade partnership; for Russia and the US, the relations would not be good, because the economic sanctions from US on Russia have not finished yet but still continue.”
The prime minister, who on Thursday referred to the Democratic nominee as “Clinton’s wife” – a reference to her spouse, former US President Bill Clinton – also denied degrading the former secretary of state, who he yesterday referred to by her first name.
He also took issue with observers who said he, like other strongman world leaders who have endorsed Trump – including Zimbabwe’s President Robert Mugabe and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin – had backed the Republican because of his authoritarian tendencies.
“If you don’t understand the politics, don’t play with politics,” he added.
Speaking yesterday, Cambodian political analyst Ou Virak said that the uncertainty surrounding Trump’s foreign policy could lead to instability in Southeast Asia should he win today’s polls, while Clinton would likely continue current US President Barack Obama’s policy of engagement with the region.