The leadership transition in Cambodia has taken a significant step forward, marking a notable departure from its violent history of power transfers.
After gaining independence from France in 1953, Cambodia has experienced several violent regime changes due to conquest, coups and civil wars. The latest events include the 1970 coup, the rise of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1975, a violent power transition in 1979 and a violent power struggle in 1997.
This time, the shift of power has been remarkably peaceful, with Hun Manet set to assume the role of prime minister on Aug 22, following the Cambodian People’s Party’s (CPP) victory at the Jul 23 election.
The reactions to Hun Manet’s appointment have been mixed: On one hand, there is optimism that Western-educated Hun Manet may improve Cambodia’s testy relationship with the West; on the other, there is concern that Hun Sen will still be running the show from behind the curtains.
While it is still early to fully evaluate Hun Manet’s leadership capacity, we can glean insights into his worldview from his academic background and over a decade of experience as the army chief and head of the CPP youth wing.