Hun Sen

Hun Sen ho͝on sĕn [key], 1952–, Cambodian political leader, premier of Cambodia (1985–93, 1998–; second premier, 1993–98). A member of the Khmer Rouge from 1970, he fled to Vietnam with Heng Samrin and other Communists in 1977. When the Vietnamese army invaded Cambodia, Hun Sen returned, becoming foreign minister (1979–85) in Heng Samrin's Vietnamese-backed, anti–Khmer Rouge, Communist government. In 1985, Hun Sen became premier and soon was the most powerful member of the Cambodian government. After the signing (1991) of a peace agreement with both the Khmer Rouge and Norodom Sihanouk's forces and then national elections in 1993, Hun Sen became copremier with royalist Prince Norodom Ranariddh. In 1997, after a period of tension in the coalition, Hun Sen's forces moved against Ranariddh and his allies, and Ranariddh fled the country. In disputed elections in 1998, Hun Sen's Cambodian People's party won, and he became sole premier in coalition with Ranariddh's party; after protracted negotiations, the coalition was renewed after the 2003 elections. He remained premier after the 2008 elections, when his party won in a landslide, and after the closer 2013 elections. His government has been intolerant of political opposition, often convicting opponents of spurious charges, and by 2018 elections, in which his party won every parliamentary seat, he had converted Cambodia into a de facto one-party state. He and his family have been accused of using his premiership to enrich themselves.

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