Samdech Techo Hun Sen’s Special message on decision to step down as Prime Minister after the 2023 National Election [Unofficial Translation]


(1) The 2023 election – a record breaker to the previous elections

Earlier, I just visited HM the King to inform HM about the election and the process ahead. As a first step, I would inform our compatriots that our election in 2023 is a record-breaking election (election) to those held in the past, that despite the incitement of unrest to prevent people from going to the polls, the turnout was 84.58 percent, a provisional number, compared to 69.61% for the national election in 2013; 83.02 percent for the 6th Legislative National Assembly in 2018; and 80.32 percent for recent commune election in 2022. Despites there were anti-election movements, people’s democracy proceeds as usual and it is considered the people’s day to elect their leaders from the political parties that participate in the election.

(2) Over 1 million votes more for CPP compared to the 2022 Commune/Sangkat Council elections

We see that the people have shown political maturity in the democratic process by participating in the largest turnout in the last two decades. At the same time, let me express my gratitude to the people all over the country for their participation. I would like to express my gratitude to our compatriots who – some 82.30 percent – have given their trust in voting the Cambodian People’s Party, an increase of more than 1 million votes compared to the 2022 commune elections. Of course, this figure is officially announced by the National Election Commission. The provisional election results have already been announced. I see this as a strong momentum of the democratic process, on the one hand, and on the other, the trust in the CPP to lead the Royal Government.

(3) Prepare the Royal Government from the beginning of the mandate to ensure the smooth running of the Royal Government process.

[…] I would like to inform the Buddhist monks and compatriots that, based on the decision of the Permanent Committee of the Cambodian People’s Party and the audience granted by HM the King, I am asking people for the understanding that I am declaring that I will not continue in the position of the Prime Minister. I have declared candidacy for the Prime Minister for the seventh term, and His Excellency Hun Manet is the candidate for the future Prime Minister position. The situation, however, requires the preparation of the Royal Government from the beginning of this term to ensure the smooth running of the Royal Government without interruption […]

(4) Stepping down after giving ups for the survival of the people, ending the war and reforms

As other dignitaries, we have turned into our 70s or even the 80s. We should now be staying behind. I would like to clarify a little bit about how I will deal with it. We must dare to sacrifice. Once again, I relinquish power. Before that, I traded my life for the survival of the people, the liberation of the people from the genocidal regime of Pol Pot. I then traded my life for peace, trying to end the war, bringing about national unity and territorial unity for the first time in the long history of Cambodia. I have also traded my political life for the (positive) reforms results in the Kingdom of Cambodia so far.

(5) Pre-planning stepping down to maintain long-term stability

With these sacrifices, why am I in such a hurry to leave? This is a prelude to the long-term stability of the country, and that peace and stability in the long run is the foundation of peace and development (which the country) will continue to be inherited through my children (‘s leadership). He is not taking the position from me without going through the procedure, especially the people’s vote to become a member of the National Assembly. It’s indeed a guarantee that when the new generation takes office, the old generation will stand by them.

(6) Continuing to serve the people and assist the RGC …

I myself, Samdech Krala Hom Sar Kheng, Samdech Pichey Sena Tea Banh, Samdech Men Sam An and some other Deputy Prime Ministers will also resign. I would like to inform our compatriots about my political future […] that I will continue to be the President of the ruling party and a member of the National Assembly. In addition, His Majesty the King will nominate me as the President of the Royal Council of the Throne after I permanently leave the Council of Ministers. Next […] on February 25, 2024, there will be a Senate election. I am going to run for the Senate. According to the plan of my party, I will become the President of the Senate in place of Samdech Say Chhum, who wished to take leave for his old age. I am still able to continue to serve the people and assist the Royal Government in managing security, order, as well as contributing to the further development of the nation.

(7) Will not interfere in the affairs of the Prime Minister or the new Royal Government

I would like to make it clear that I will not interfere in the affairs of the Prime Minister or the new Royal Government in accordance with the division of power between the legislature and the executive. Based on my experience as the Prime Minister for more than 38 years, I am well aware of the independence of the Prime Minister in decision-making. This is an effort to prevent (unnecessary happening because) a long night would have too many dreams – where rumors are spreading, as analysts, or extremist groups, I may say, who like to attack us to have their eyes opened (to the fact that) Manet will be Prime Minister in just over three weeks from today.

(8) HM the King to appoint the Prime Minister, who shall organize the Cabinet for the approval of the National Assembly

Hun Manet (the Prime Minister, who) has the ability. Manet has already completed two tasks. First, the party unanimously nominated Hun Manet as the prime ministerial candidate. He will now become prime minister in the coming weeks. Second, Hun Manet has already been elected to the National Assembly. It is true that he is not yet a valid member of the National Assembly because all the elected people have not yet (received) the call by HM the King for their swearing in. This morning, I met with HM the King, who also accepted the request of the President of the Party with the most seats in the National Assembly to issue a Royal Decree appointing the Prime Minister, Dr. Hun Manet. Next, the Prime Minister must arrange for the Royal Government – to match the composition of the Cabinet – so that the National Assembly can give confidence to.

(9) A great sacrifice to ensure the peaceful life of the people

I reiterate that this is a great sacrifice. My sacrifice is worth to ensure the peaceful life of the people. In the same way, our former King, the King Father of our nation, Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Preah Borom Ratanak Kaod, had modelled a great preparation. He abdicated and appointed a new king – the current HM the King Norodom Sihamoni. In the meantime, if there had not been prior planning for eight years, when the King Father passed away in 2012, we would have been in a state of turmoil. One side we had to take care of the royal funeral and the other side the Royal Council of the Throne had to elect a new king […] to be President of the Senate, I will assist the Royal Government and HM the King, while in his absence, as the Acting Head of State. This is the ultimate guarantee of peace for the country and, in particular, the stability of the functioning of state power without hindrance.

(10) To appoint new Prime Minister either on August 10 or August 7

I would address all the monks as well as our compatriots, according to the work calendar, after the National Election Commission announces the official results, HM the King will appoint the Prime Minister so that he can prepare the Royal Government and bring the Cabinet to seek approval of the National Assembly. According to the calendar, there are two possibilities. The first possibility is that the National Election Commission will announce the (official electoral and elected deputies) results on August 9 […], in which case, on August 10, HM the King will appoint a new Prime Minister […] however, the National Election Commission (NEC), as far as I heard, could be announcing the (official) results on August 5 […] in which case, I have had the attention of HM the King that we should not appoint the Prime Minister on Sunday, August 6. Please appoint the Prime Minister on Monday, August 7, instead.

(11) The National Assembly convenes on August 21 and the new Prime Minister is sworn in on the evening of August 22

HM the King will convene the first session of the National Assembly on August 21, 2023, which is a good departure for the National Assembly as well as for the new government […] on August 21. In the morning HM the King will convene the session of the National Assembly, and in the afternoon of the same day, the members of the National Assembly will be swearing in. On August 22nd, the National Assembly will be in session chaired by the most senior member. At that time, the leadership of the National Assembly and the Royal Government will be formed. On the evening of Tuesday, August 22nd, the Council of Ministers will be sworn in. It is a good time for us to celebrate official departure time of the National Assembly and the Royal Government.

(12) Still a political figure leading the country …

I am still a politician who continues to lead the country in the capacity of the president of the ruling party, and in the interim period – a member of the National Assembly, along with my future role as Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Throne […] I will assist HM the King, as well as mediate between the Royal Palace and the Royal Government, especially to help the palace with the supply of logistics or security, especially the protection of the throne. In either February or March (2024), I will become the President of the Senate of the Kingdom of Cambodia, replacing Samdech Say Chhum, who will resign. This is a compromise and I have already told HM the King. Samdech Heng Samrin, Samdech Sar Kheng, Samdech Tea Banh, Samdech Men Sam An will be appointed as the King’s personal advisers. This is the process that I would like to inform you all.

(13) New generation leaders to implement the five-angle strategy

I would like to emphasize that although I still have political power, I will not interfere in the affairs of the Royal Government or the new Prime Minister, because as the Cambodian People’s Party already laid out its political platform, the Royal Government will have to figure out implementing it according to reality. With related dignitaries, we have been proactive to organize the succeeding generation to take over, and they will move towards leading with the Pentagon strategy in replacement of the rectangular strategy, with its processes added to new aspects in line with the needs of the country’s development. Therefore, my compatriots, please do not worry about my departure. Lok Chumteav Pheung Sakona, (Minister of Culture), upon learning of my purpose (to step down) said – and it really touched me – “meeting the brother is fun, but being separated from the father is really difficult.” I am aware of this, but I must step down as Prime Minister, the position I have served for more than 38 years, the longest-serving Prime Minister in the world, to pave the way for the long haul […]

(14) Prime Minister from January 14, 1985 until August 22, 2023

I have been the Prime Minister for how long? I will be the Prime Minister from January 14, 1985 until August 22, 2023. I have been in this tenure 2,014 weeks. In terms of months, it is 463 months. In terms of years, it is 38 years, 7 months and 8 days. In terms of days, it is 14,099 days. I am the longest-serving Prime Minister in the world. Considering the time when I began my tenure as Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Government from January 08, 1979 to August 22, 2023, I served in the Government and the Royal Government for 2,328 weeks, 16,297 days, 535 months, or 44 years, 7 months, and 14 days – nearly half a century.

Considering the beginning of trading life to (liberate and) lead the country and becoming the leader of the movement from June 20, 1977 to August 22, 2023, I fulfilled my duties for 46 years, 2 months, and 2 days or 554 months, 2,409 weeks and 16,864 days […] I am not yet done. This is just to emphasize two important tasks – one is how long I have been the Prime Minister and the other is how long I have been in the Royal Government. I still remain a member of the National Assembly and will continue to be President of the Senate next year. It is not over yet.

(15) Even if Hun Manet were not my child, I would still support him as Prime Minister

I will be 72 years old in the next few days. I am announcing it early to avoid comments from foreign newspapers or from the opposition on whether Manet could become the Prime Minister? I would like to make it clear to you that Hun Manet will start being the Prime Minister on the evening of August 22, 2023. At that time, whether you call Hun Manet as the Prime Minister or not will be up to you, but you are the outlaw. Some 84% of the people voted with more than 82% of the support (for the CPP and he is the PM candidate). It is enough. There is no need for you to give your support […] my trust is that people will continue to support Hun Manet. Even if Hun Manet were not my son, I would still support Hun Manet as Prime Minister. I always affirm that position. Hun Manet has gone through 4 important stages – 1. the party must have an internal agreement to become the successor. 2. He must be a member of the National Assembly through the general election. 3. He must be appointed by the King to organize the Royal Government and 4. He must win approval by the National Assembly.

(16) Some old-aged Ministers to sit in the NA, the Senate, and to serve as advisors

I would ask all ministers who do not hold the positions anymore to please understand. We must have a sacrifice. The one who gave the greatest sacrifice was myself. Even though my son takes over, the one who once was in command is no longer so. That is sacrifice. Let those former ministers sit in the National Assembly. we are old now. Some can be appointed as advisors to the Royal Government and some can become senators in the future. We will check later […] some of our senators are also 80 or older, or close to 80, old enough to leave. It is true that the Senators are (for people with) old (age), but (when they are) too old, (they are) not able to work. We need to think about health and think about the succession of the next generation […]

(17) The opposition’s insults gave sympathy to Hun Sen and Hun Manet

Once again, I would like to thank my compatriots, both inside and outside the country, for their supports of myself in the past, and most recently for the democratic process through elections. I would also like to thank all the opposition groups for insulting/scorning Hun Sen, for insulting Hun Manet as much that the CPP received more than 82% of the votes […] it is because of your radio, your insults on Hun Sen and Hun Manet, people have given sympathy to Hun Sen and Hun Manet […] it is high time for you in the opposition to learn from these experiences to guarantee that you can participate in the process of democracy in Cambodia.

(18) They humiliated us, but they had to work with us

The national and international observers (here present for the elections) are living witnesses to the democratic process in Cambodia. It is not up to one or two countries to undervalue Cambodia’s elections. What is determined and necessary is that the people did vote for the National Assembly to form the Royal Government, HM the King appoints the (PM to organize the) Royal Government, and not a recognition by one or two countries. I do not make inference to any country, but as we all can see, since 2018, though they have always humiliated us, but they still had to work with me, they could not avoid me – and that would include the ASEAN Summit in Phnom Penh –the relationship between state and state is like this.

(19) Ballots show trust in CPP, in Hun Sen and in Hun Manet, the successor

I should emphasize that extremist politics should be eliminated from Cambodia. Any group that intends to associate with extremist leaders should not be forgiven. We will implement the law to get rid of this extremist group. It is not a warning, but my advice that it is better for them to be cooperative, constructive, rather than violent. You have used too much verbal violence. It is enough. The ballots that the people gave to the CPP this time confirmed – firstly, trust in the CPP, second, trust in Hun Sen, and third, trust in the successor – Hun Manet. That is a clear message from the people, you need to understand this. You cannot go wrong again and again. Please do not do politics from the outside to imprison the insiders, and the insider should understand what it is to you to follow the outsiders […]

I would like to thank HM the King for his continued encouragement, especially this morning’s audience regarding proposals for the appointments, compositions, convening National Assembly session and formation of the Royal Government, all of which he provided support. Finally, I wish all the Busshist monks, compatriots, both inside and outside the country, good health, happiness, prosperity with the five blessings of the Buddha. Thank you.