Hun Sen, Prime Minister of Cambodia
Hun Sen is the 34th and current Prime Minister of Cambodia, President of the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), and Member of Parliament (MP) for Kandal. He has served as Cambodia’s premier for more than 25 years, making him the longest serving head of government of Cambodia and one of the longest serving leaders in the world. From 1979 to 1986 and again from 1987 to 1990, Hun Sen served as Cambodia’s foreign minister. His full honorary title is Samdech Akeak Moha Sena Padey Techo Hun Sen (Khmer: សម្តេចអគ្គមហាសេនាបតី តេជោ ហ៊ុន សែន; meaning “Lord Prime Minister, Supreme Military Commander Hun Sen”). Born Hun Bunal, he changed his name to Hun Sen in 1972 two years after joining the Khmer Rouge.
Hun Sen rose to the premiership in January 1985 when the KPRP-dominated National Assembly appointed him to succeed Chan Sy who had died in office in December 1984. The position would be held by Hun Sen until the 1993 elections when the latter lost an election bid. Refusing to relinquish power and after negotiations with the Funcinpec Party, Hun Sen jointly served as Prime Minister with Norodom Ranariddh until a 1997 coup. Ung Huot was then selected to succeed Ranariddh. In 1998, he would lead the CPP to victory in the elections but had to form a coalition government with FUNCINPEC. Hun Sen has since been elected consecutively and is currently serving in his fifth prime ministerial term, and vows to rule until he is 74.
Hun Sen was 32 years, 162 days old when he became prime minister, making him at that time the world’s youngest head of government. One of the world’s longest-serving leaders, with a reputation as a ‘wily operator who destroys his political opponents’, Hun Sen is widely viewed as a dictator who has assumed authoritarian power in Cambodia using violence, intimidation and corruption to maintain his power base. Hun Sen has accumulated highly centralized power in Cambodia, including a ‘praetorian guard that appears to rival the capabilities of the country’s regular military units.’The former Khmer Rouge commander has consolidated his grip on power through a ‘web of patronage and brute military strength’