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As Political Talks Continue, Hun Sen’s Position Secure, Analysts Say

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (L) chats with his Vietnamese counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung before a signing ceremony at the Government Office in Hanoi December 26, 2013.
Despite original calls from the opposition for Prime Minister Hun Sen to step down in the wake of 2013 elections, analysts say that position has not been a part of current political negotiations—nor is it likely to be.

Hun Sen, who has ruled Cambodia for more than three decades, has the support of the armed forces, and his Cambodian People’s Party has been running parliament, despite an opposition boycott, for the last eight months.

Meanwhile, the country has seen fast economic growth in recent years, further strengthening his mandate, analysts say.

Kem Ley, a development researcher in Phnom Penh, told VOA Khmer a “lack of rigor” in negotiations between the CPP and the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party, as well as Hun Sen’s support within the military, are “a benefit to him to keep his position.”

Still, Hun Sen’s government relies on foreign aid for about 40 percent of its budget, an economic situation that can only last for the short term, he said.

Ny Chakrya, chief investigator for the rights group Adhoc, told VOA Khmer that Hun Sen’s departure is highly unlikely, given that he has overseen rapid economic growth. “The question of sustainable economics is insurance for his mandate,” Ny Chakrya said.

Meanwhile, in negotiations, both sides seem to be making progress in breaking the political deadlock. Though while the Rescue Party has not pushed demands for Hun Sen’s resignation, it has said it wants reform of the National Election Committee, widely seen as biased toward the ruling party.

Still, Mu Sochua, a Rescue Party leader, said the negotiations for now include opposition requests to address irregularities from the last election, as well as reforming the NEC, and holding a mid-term election.

“If they do not agree to that, Hun Sen must leave,” she said.

Chheang Von, a lawmaker for the CPP, said there are no laws that require mid-term elections. The CPP is standing by its victory in the July 2013 polls and in its choice of Hun Sen as premier, he said. “The CPP was the winner.”