Hun Sen, who has held power for three decades since being installed by the Vietnamese, has not had a real political rival. Prime minister since January 1985, he initially chaired the single-party, KPRP-run government.
Hun Sen has mostly ignored the opposition’s accusations that he is a stooge of Hanoi while never hiding his good relations with Vietnam. These go back to 1977 when he and other Khmer Rouge defectors crossed into Vietnam. They were welcomed and trained to form a new Cambodian government that was installed by Vietnam after it ousted the Khmer Rouge regime in January 1979. Hun Sen became foreign minister and then prime minister in 1985. He has held onto power since with political maneuvering that has won him democratic elections and by crushing opponents with brazen armed force.
Hun Sen was born on August 5, 1952 (officially on April 4th, 1951) in Peam Koh Sna Commune, Stoeung Trang District of Kampong Cham Province, upon completion of his local primary schooling, in 1965 Hun Sen came to Phnom Penh to continue his secondary education in the Lycée Indra Devi. He resided in Neakavoan Pagoda. According to other accounts, Hun Sen never finished school. At twelve, while the war was raging in neighboring Vietnam, he moved to the capital, Phnom Penh.
He began to flirt with political activism in the late 1960s. Then when Cambodia sank into civil war in 1970, he was conscripted into what would become the Khmer Rouge army, which later perpetrated a campaign of genocide that killed nearly two million people. Another version claims that "Responding to the appeal of Prince Sihanouk to Cambodians to join the war against the imperialists, at the age of 18, Hun Sen joined the struggle movement, which liberated the country on April 17, 1975".
While Hun Sen has claimed to have opposed the Khmer Rouge since 1975, the year it captured Phnom Penh, in reality, he was still anchored in the ultra-Maoist movement, losing an eye while fighting in their ranks and climbing to the position of deputy regional commander. One day before the victory, on April 16, 1975, Hun Sen was wounded in the left eye. Recovered from months of treatment, on January 5, 1976, he married Bun Rany, a nurse. They have six children – 1) Hun Komsot (November 10, 1976 - deceased), 2) Hun Manet (October 20, 1977), 3) Hun Mana (September 15, 1980), 4) Hun Manit (October 17, 1981), 5) Hun Mani (November 27, 1982) and 6) Hun Mali (December 30, 1983).
Witnessing the Pol Pot regime's policy of genocide, in 1977 he left his family again to lead a movement aimed at liberating Cambodia and its people from the genocidal regime. In 1978, Hun Sen became a founding member of the United Front for the National Salvation of Kampuchea (UFNSK). In collaboration with other patriotic movements and with the support of Vietnamese volunteer forces, on January 7, 1979, the UFNSK rescued Cambodia and its people from the genocidal regime of Democratic Kampuchea.
Hun Sen joined the government set up by the Vietnamese. After quickly rising through the ministerial ranks, he abandoned the communist dogma of his mentors in Hanoi, embracing neoliberal economics instead. From 1979 to 1993, Hun Sen held various positions in the Cambodian administrations – the People's Republic of Kampuchea and then the State of Cambodia. As Foreign Minister in 1979, as Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister from 1981 to 1985, and then as Prime Minister and Foreign Minister from 1985 to 1991, Hun Sen brought about several remarkable achievements, laying the basis for the implementation of peace, national reconciliation, and the development of Cambodia. Through his willing contribution and efforts, Hun Sen proved an indispensable architect of the Paris Peace Agreement on Cambodia.
In 1993, Hun Sen’s party lost the first UN-organised elections in the country. But he managed to stay on top, taking the position of co-prime minister with Nordom Ranariddh, the royalist leader who won the election. As a result of the implementation of the Agreement and the 1993 national elections, from 1993 to 1998 Hun Sen served Cambodia as the Co-Premier and then the second Prime Minister of the first coalition government. In this position, he again proved to be an earnest defender of national achievements and of the Paris Peace Agreement. His achievements in this period included fulfilling commitments to the improvement of rural roads, schools, dispensaries and healthcare centers, and access to clean water, while carrying out the win-win policy which ends the Khmer Rouge's threat and unifies Cambodia.
In 1997, Hun Sen put an abrupt end to the power-sharing arrangement, dismissing Ranariddh. Since then, he has never lost an election. In July 1998, the general election brought victory to the Cambodian People's Party, of which Hun Sen is the Vice President. He became the sole Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, leading the second coalition government of the two major parties – the CPP and FUNCINPEC – and solemnly declared his Government to be an "economy-oriented government." Under his leadership Cambodia became the 10th member of the Association of South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN).
Samdech Hun Sen, as the candidate of the Cambodian People's Party for the post of Prime Minister, again led the CPP to a victory in the July-2003 general elections. After eleven months of political difficulties, once more he succeeded in forming a coalition with FUNCINPEC. On July 15, 2004, under a new law allowing for a package vote, the National Assembly re-elected him as Prime Minister, and ratified the third-term coalition Government between the Cambodian People's Party and FUNCINPEC.
On July 16, 2004, in his capacity as the Prime Minister of the Royal Government in the third legislature of the National Assembly, Samdech Hun Sen declares the Royal Government's “Rectangular Strategy” for Growth, Employment, Equity and Efficiency - in addition to the Triangular Strategy put out in the previous term.
On November 23, 2005, the CPP Congress issued its resolution to unanimously nominate its Vice President Samdech Hun Sen as the candidate for the post of Prime Minister for the fourth legislature of the National Assembly.
On September 25, 2008, after winning the general elections of July 27, 2008 in which the Cambodian People's Party won 90 from the 123 seats in the National Assembly, Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen has been re-elected by the Fourth Legislature of the National Assembly and approved by HM the King, Preah Karuna Preah Bat Sâmdech Preah Bâromneath Norodom Sihamoni, as Prime Minister for the five-year term 2008-2013.
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy was trying in 2011 to bring Prime Minsiter Hun Sen to court for atrocity crimes. Sam Rainsy is alleging the Hun Sen was involved in the deaths of many people along the Thai border who were sent there to clear forest during the civil war. Many died of sickness or by stepping on land mines, which Sam Rainsy called a crime against humanity. He is also implicating Hun Sen in killings of demonstrations against the 1998 national elections that put him firmly in power and in the 1997 grenade attack on a Sam Rainsy-led rally, where at least 16 people died. Sam Rainsy said the complaints were not part of political brokering for his return to Cambodia, where he faces years of imprisonment on criminal charges he says are politically motivated.
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