Posted: 21 January 2011
Asia Pacific News
PHNOM PENH: Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday defended his son's recent military promotion, a move that has fuelled speculation the young man is being groomed to succeed his father.
Hun Manet, 33, is already chief of the ministry of defence's anti-terrorism unit as well as deputy commander of Hun Sen's personal bodyguard unit.
He was promoted to a two-star general in a ceremony earlier this month, and critics have said his rapid career progression could be seen as an attempt by Hun Sen to consolidate his political power.
But the premier has hit back, saying his son - who graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point in 1999 and earned a doctorate in economics at Britain's University of Bristol - was well-qualified for the roles.
"He joined the army in 1994. He has been in army for 16 years, and there is promotion within the army ranks," Hun Sen said in a speech broadcast on national radio.
Chea Vannath, a Cambodian independent political analyst, said Hun Manet's latest appointment was an attempt to "maintain political stability" in the country.
"I think that this promotion is to prepare for a smooth succession," she said, explaining that if Hun Sen ever wanted to quit politics "at least he has paved the way for his son to have a smooth transition, but I cannot tell in what capacity."
Hun Sen, 59, has ruled Cambodia since 1985, making him Asia's longest-serving prime minister. He has vowed to remain in power until he is 90 years old.