Ruling party lawmakers in Cambodia officially extended Hun Sen’s rule for another five years on Tuesday, renaming the longtime strongman prime minister of the Southeast Asian nation in a parliamentary vote boycotted by the opposition.
The vote was considered a formality, and Mr Hun Sen who has ruled virtually unchallenged for nearly three decades will take the oath of office in front of King Norodom Sihamoni at the Royal Palace later in the day.
The opposition stayed away from parliament’s opening session Monday and boycotted the legislature again Tuesday over allegations the country’s disputed July ballot was marred by fraud. They have pushed unsuccessfully for an independent probe of election irregularities and staged several protests, but none of it derailed Mr Hun Sen’s track to stay in power.
The parliamentary vote Tuesday saw all 68 ruling party lawmakers rename Mr Hun Sen to his post. All 55 seats held by the opposition were empty.
Analysts say the opposition has two main options.
“One is to go back on what they said and the second is just to let Hun Sen run the country the way he wants,” said Cambodia historian David Chandler, emeritus professor of history at Australia’s Monash University. “But it seems to me they should respect the voters who voted them into the assembly, rather than just abandoning them.”
The other option- “They could take to the streets, but that’s very dangerous” because of the threat of bloodshed, he said.
At least one person died and 10 were injured when security forces cracked down on opposition protests earlier this month.