New PM Hun Manet Pledges Full Commitment to Cambodians

Prime MInister Hun Manet arrives at the National Assembly ahead of vote of confidence. Photo: Chhorn Sophat

PHNOM PENH – Following a vote of confidence at the National Assembly (NA) on Aug. 22, Hun Manet has been officially nominated as the new prime minister of Cambodia, taking over the position that his father Hun Sen held for more than 38 years.

Talking before the Assembly shortly after the vote, he pleaded to serve every Cambodian citizen and national interest.

“As the head of the government, I give my promise to the whole nation that I will commit to leading and ensuring the successful implementation of the policies,” he said.

In a 22-minute speech before the lawmakers, Hun Manet expressed his “strong ambition” to lead the country and disclosed some aspects of his political program.

He stated that he would primarily focus on protecting peace, stability, and the independence and national sovereignty of the country, while promoting economic growth, improving the livelihood of the people, increasing social sustainability to climate change, and setting out new policies in regard to green investments.

He also said the new government will work on six priority points: Expanding healthcare services towards achieving universal health coverage, boosting vocational and technical training for the youth, institutionalizing social assistance programs for poor and vulnerable households, working on the inclusion of the informal sector into the formal economy, developing market access for local agricultural products, and modernizing agriculture techniques across the nation.

A total of 123 lawmakers out of 125, took part in the vote of confidence, with two members being absent. All of them granted their vote to the 45-year-old new politician.

The NA continued the first session of the 7th legislature by approving the new president and vice presidents of the Parliament’s lower house, the heads of the expert committees, as well as the new cabinet.

The new government, led by Hun Manet, includes 10 deputy prime ministers, 21 senior ministers and 30 cabinet ministers.

The new cabinet is made up of old ministers and new figures, often the offspring of current influential politicians. These include Sar Sokha, the son of Interior Minister Sar Kheng, at the Interior Ministry, and Tea Seiha, the son of Defense Minister Tea Banh, at the National Defense Ministry. Sok Chenda Sophea, former head of the Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) is elevated to Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Following the first session of the 7th legislature, Khuon Sudary was approved as the new National Assembly president, walking in the footsteps of Heng Samrin, who held this position since 2006. Sudary becomes the first female president of the assembly in Cambodia’s history.

Cheam Yeab is the first deputy president of the National Assembly while Vong Sauth, Samrin’s son-in-law and the former minister of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation, is the second deputy.

The official approval of Hun Manet as the new prime minister marks the end of the Hun Sen era, after more than 38 years in power. “It’s time for me to leave,” said the 71-year-old former prime minister.

But the patriarch will keep key political positions. In addition to remaining the president of the Cambodian People’s Party, he already announced that he will be the president of the Senate after the Senate elections in 2024.

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