Hun Sen's son given key army posts

Hun Sen's son given key army posts

Lieut Gen Hun Manet attends a sports competition in Phnom Penh in January. (Reuters Photo)
Lieut Gen Hun Manet attends a sports competition in Phnom Penh in January. (Reuters Photo)

PHNOM PENH: The son of Prime Minister Hun Sen was promoted to two senior military posts on Saturday as his father looks to widen his family's influence.

The move comes just weeks before elections that the veteran strongman is expected to win easily given that the main opposition party has been dissolved. Other opposition figures have been intimidated into silence and most media critical of the man Human Ruights Watch this week called a "dictator" have been closed.

Hun Sen, who has ruled for 33 years, is accused of trying to build a political dynasty by priming his three sons for top posts.

On Saturday his eldest son, Lieut Gen Hun Manet, was promoted to acting chief of joint staff and commander of the army headquarters, according to defence ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat.

The 40-year-old West Point-trained officer will keep his current roles as head of the defence ministry's anti-terrorism unit and the deputy commander of Hun Sen's personal bodyguard unit.

He will soon be promoted to a four-star general, a required status for the jobs.

The defence spokesman said Hun Manet's promotion was merit-based and not because of his family name.

"There is nothing strange, his promotions have been made based on his qualifications and experience in the army," Chhum Socheat told AFP.

Several others were moved in the military shuffle, including military police commander-in-chief Sao Sokha who was appointed acting supreme commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces.

Two others -- Pol Saroeun and Kun Kim -- stepped down from their senior military roles to run for parliament in the July 29 vote.

Both are close allies of Hun Sen and were among the "dirty dozen" generals accused in a Human Rights Watch report this week of carrying out rights abuses, war crimes and crimes against humanity for decades to prop up Hun Sen.

"These 12 men are the backbone of an abusive and authoritarian political regime over which an increasingly dictatorial Hun Sen rules," the report said.

They were accused of "violations of human rights, war crimes, and crimes against humanity committed from the 1970s to the present," it said.

"Most of the 12 have been implicated in the use of unnecessary, excessive, and sometimes lethal force against protests about unfree and unfair elections, land confiscations, labour abuses, and low wages."

The defence ministry denied the allegations contained in what it called a "deranged report".

Hun Sen's second son, Hun Manit, is the head of a powerful military intelligence unit and his youngest, Hun Many, is a parliamentarian who oversees the ruling party's far-reaching youth movement.

One of the world's longest-serving leaders, Hun Sen, 65, has repeatedly vowed to stay in office for another decade.

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