20 June, 2021

Double-Barrelled Destiny

Hun Sen brings an authoritarian vision, the exiled Prince Ranariddh's army blocks the view

Double-Barrelled Destiny

WITH the brazen military takeover on July 5, Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, leader of the Cambodian People's Party (CPP), has emerged overnight as Southeast Asia's new strongman. He is the latest in a succession of authoritarian figures to emerge in Cambodia since the 1960s when the autocratic Prince Norodom Sihanouk was the chief of state.

Hun Sen's carefully planned move to wrest power has again taken his country to the brink of civil war as the armies of the royalist Funcinpec and CPP, the two partners in a shaky coalition, clashed. The three days of fighting left at least 16 dead and sparked a massive emergency evacuation of the hundreds of foreigners living in the embattled capital Phnom Penh.

The violence broke out just when Cambodia seemed on the verge of settling into democracy. A new power equation has taken shape in Phnom Penh with Hun Sen's ominous moves and the decline of the Funcinpec, founded by the Nero-like Prince Sihanouk (now king) and led by his son, Prince Ranariddh. In the ensuing turmoil, Pol Pot, leader...

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