Cambodia’s ruling party claims resounding victory in Senate elections, paving the way for ex-PM Hun Sen’s return to politics

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Hun Sen

25th February 2024 – (Phnom Penh) Cambodia’s ruling party asserted its dominance in the Senate elections held on Sunday, February 25. The outcome sets the stage for the official return of former Prime Minister Hun Sen to the political arena after stepping down last year.

Having ruled the country with an iron fist for almost four decades, Hun Sen handed over power to his eldest son, Hun Manet, following last July’s national polls, which took place without any significant opposition.

Despite his resignation, Hun Sen made it clear at the time that he would continue to wield influence in Cambodian politics. The recent elections have only solidified the ruling Cambodian People’s Party’s (CPP) hold on power, with the party claiming a clean sweep of the Senate, the country’s upper house, after the polls closed on Sunday.

Sok Eysan, the CPP spokesman, announced that early results indicated the party’s victory in at least 50 out of the 58 seats. He further stated, “Obviously, he (Hun Sen) has won a seat.” It is expected that the ex-PM will be nominated as the president of the Senate, granting him the authority to act as head of state during the king’s absence when the Senate convenes in April.

The National Electoral Committee is set to release the official results in the coming weeks, reflecting the outcome of the elections accurately.

Earlier in the day, the 71-year-old lawmaker and leader of the ruling party cast his vote near his residence in Takhmao city. The elections saw the participation of four political parties, including the CPP, the royalist Funcinpec Party, and two small opposition parties.

Out of the 62 seats in the Senate, 58 seats were determined by the votes of 125 Members of Parliament and over 11,000 local administrators. The remaining two senators are appointed by King Norodom Sihamoni and the National Assembly, respectively.

Given that most eligible voters are members of the CPP, who achieved a complete victory in the previous Senate election, Hun Sen’s triumph was almost certain.

Sebastian Strangio, author of “Hun Sen’s Cambodia,” described the move to make Hun Sen the Senate president as a consolidation of power by the Hun family. Strangio emphasized the importance of preventing the position from falling into the hands of potential rivals, thus safeguarding the family’s control.

Voters in the capital city of Phnom Penh expressed their eagerness to see Hun Sen assume a position of authority once again. Commune chief Oeu Siphon commented, “He has a lot of experience, so if he leads the Senate, our country will be prosperous.”

This election follows the recent appointment of Hun Sen’s youngest son, Hun Many, as a deputy prime minister. The Cambodian government now includes several of Hun Sen’s relatives, with children of his allies occupying prominent positions.