At Angkor Wat, Cambodian strongman stamps model on kingdom

ANGKOR: Hundreds of orange-clad monks joined Cambodian Leading Hun Sen on Sunday (Dec three) for a prayer ceremony by the famed Angkor temple, lauding “political security” immediately after the major opposition social gathering was dissolved, an act that has cemented the strongman’s grip on power.

Hun Sen has dominated Cambodia considering that 1985, creating him 1 of the world’s longest-serving leaders, an accolade earned by a blend of cold political technique, deft public relations and repression.

His rule appears almost certain immediately after a courtroom early this month disbanded the major opposition social gathering forward of next year’s elections.

As dawn rose over the tiered stone domes of Angkor Wat, Hun Sen joined prayers with five,000 Buddhist monks, in a ceremony touted as celebrating peace and security at the symbolic coronary heart of Khmer power.

Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen and his spouse Bun Rany presented prayers as aspect of the ceremony. (AFP/KHEM SOVANNARA)

Graceful apsara dancers, fingers curled in the regular art, went by their moves as hundreds collected for the party at the extensive Angkor sophisticated – the centrepiece of the Khmer empire which draws again to the ninth century.

Hun Sen, who has forged himself as a determine of security in a region ravaged by the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, was front and centre of a early morning of very careful choreography.

Kneeling, palms clasped in prayer, he acquired blessings from monks who sang Buddhist mantras and scattered flower petals.

“We are living with peace underneath the prime minister’s rule,” Prum Seab, 49, who was amid the crowd told AFP. “I am delighted.”

Tourism minister Thong Khon warmed to the theme.

“We hold this ceremony for steady prosperity … we pray for continued peace and security,” he told AFP, swatting away the concern of a political disaster in the region.

“We have no disaster, but there are politicians who are owning a disaster themselves,” he explained.

Analysts had predicted a solid obstacle to Hun Sen at next year’s election, immediately after the youth vote in 2013 took the opposition Cambodia Countrywide Rescue Bash (CNRP) to its most effective at any time electoral consequence.

But Hun Sen has rallied in the intervening years, boosting his public profile by Facebook, though systematically using the kingdom’s pliant courts to hack away at the CNRP as perfectly as critics in civil culture and the media.

Cambodia’s major opposition social gathering was lastly dissolved this month over accusations it conspired with the United States in a treason plot.

The circumstance was blasted by Washington as baseless, though rights teams explained it has hastened the country’s descent into a de facto 1-social gathering condition.

Hun Sen has turned up the anti-American rhetoric to justify the unprecedented crackdown which has included shuttering important media with trumped-up tax fees or arresting journalists on allegations of spying.

In move, he has deepened Cambodia’s embrace of regional heavyweight China, whose very low-curiosity loans and infrastructure strategies are driving a increase in the 1 of Southeast Asia’s poorest international locations.

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