Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen, one of the world’s longest-serving leaders, has said he will resign and hand power to his eldest son after almost four decades of hardline rule.
“I would like to ask for understanding from the people as I announce that I will not continue as prime minister,” the 70-year-old said in a special broadcast on state television on Wednesday.
According to international media reports, his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) won a landslide victory in an election on Sunday with no strong opposition, taking 82 percent of the vote, paving the way for a dynastic succession to his eldest son.
Hun Sen has trailed the handover to his son for a year and a half, and the 45-year-old played a leading role in campaigning for Sunday’s vote.
But the outgoing leader has made it clear that he still intends to wield influence, even after he steps down, scotching the notion the country could change direction.
As per reports, election authorities disqualified the only serious challenger, the Candlelight Party, on a technicality in advance of the election, and the CPP is expected to win all but five lower house seats.
The government hailed the 84.6 percent turnout as evidence of the country’s “democratic maturity” but Western powers including the United States and European Union condemned the poll as neither free nor fair.
Under Hun Sen, Cambodia has tacked close to Beijing, benefiting from huge Chinese investment and infrastructure projects, including the redevelopment of a naval base that has alarmed Washington.
China welcomed Sunday’s election, with President Xi Jinping sending Hun Sen a personal message of congratulation.