Hun Manet Appointed to Lead Ruling Party’s Youth Movement

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Hun Manet participates in the 20th anniversary commemoration of the creation of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ military headquarters in Phnom Penh, in this photograph posted to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page.

Prime Minister Hun Sen’s eldest son General Hun Manet has been appointed to lead the ruling CPP’s purported 1.8 million-strong youth movement, a promotion that one analyst called a “preparation” for Manet to one day lead the nation.

Manet, 42, was promoted from vice president to head of the party’s youth wing by the CPP Central Committee’s 34-member standing committee, which is led by Hun Sen, according to a party statement dated Monday.

His promotion was made based on Manet’s professional capacity, a request from the assignment committee and a recommendation from the standing committee, which consists of senior party leaders, including Manet himself, said the announcement and CPP spokesman Sok Eysan.

“There are a lot of youth in the Cambodian People’s Party, but the nomination depends on the party’s standing committee,” Eysan said. “The chairperson is only one [position] so the selection was made for His Excellency Hun Manet by the leaders.”

Eysan told VOD on Monday that Manet will replace Ke Bunkheang, vice chairman of the Central Committee’s education committee, who was also in charge of the party’s youth wing for more than 20 years.

The party’s standing committee appointed Manet due to his ability, knowledge and leadership and his nomination was not contested by other qualified youths, Eysan added.

The spokesman estimated that about 30 percent, or some 1.8 million, of the approximately 6 million CPP members nationwide were youth between the ages of 15 and 35.

A member of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s graduating class of 1999, Manet was promoted to the rank of two-star general in 2011 at 34 years old, and then to three-star general two years later.

Less than a month before the 2018 national election — in which the CPP won all 125 National Assembly seats up for grabs in a poll criticized by the banned main opposition CNRP and some foreign governments as neither free nor fair — Manet was made the armed forces’ deputy commander in chief and commander of the army.

Hun Manith, another son of the prime minister, is also a senior military officer, three-star general and director of the Defense Ministry’s intelligence department. Hun Sen’s youngest son, lawmaker Hun Many, heads the Union Youth Federations of Cambodia, a civil society youth organization whose members have worked as election monitors.

The premier’s daughters, Hun Mana and Hun Maly, work in the private sector, holding stakes in some of the nation’s top companies.

Hing Soksan, former president of the outlawed CNRP’s youth movement, said the position of youth leader is a key role to build support for future politicians and that youth is a force for great social change.

“Leading a party’s youth movement is an important foundation for future political party leadership. If Mr. Hun Manet wants to become the successor in the CPP, he has his existing support base,” Soksan said.

The prime minister and other government leaders have faced criticisms over the appointment or promotion of family members within the military ranks or government.

But Eysan said the ruling party’s decisions on leaders were made democratically.  

“The CPP’s internal affairs are done in line with the principles of a broad and internal democratic process. So, the decision to appoint any official is always based on a collective discussion within the standing committee of the CPP’s Central Committee. So, it is not based on an individual decision by any leader,” the party spokesman said.

Political analyst Meas Nee said that based on the ruling party’s structure, the appointment of officials’ family members to political or party positions is nothing new.

Manet’s appointment as head of the CPP youth wing is “a preparation to push Mr. Hun Manet to a place that is suitable [for him] to be the next prime minister,” Nee said. “Under the principles of the Cambodian People’s Party, only those holding top positions in the party can be considered as a prime minister candidate.”

Manet has noticeably been promoted quickly from one rank to another and it seemed that the prime minister was pushing his son higher up the party hierarchy, Nee said, adding that he was not sure how far Manet’s advancement would go.

“Hun Manet would become a leader in the future, only if he is pushed up to a position that equals party leaders,” he said.

(Translated and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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