The Cambodian government has rejected reports that Prime Minister Hun Sen has a Cypriot passport, as he ordered the justice ministry to amend the constitution to bar holders of the country’s top posts, including the prime minister, from being citizens of other nations.
According to Khmer Times, lawyers of the Royal Government of Cambodia rejected a report in the Guardian newspaper saying Hun Sen has a Cypriot passport.
In a statement, the lawyers made it clear that “Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen, Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, has only one Khmer nationality, no foreign nationality, no foreign residence. Never run away from the people and the country of Cambodia. The publication that Samdech Hun Sen has a passport in Cyprus is an exaggeration and a departure from the truth.”
The statement did not specify whether or not Hun Sen had held more than one nationality in the past.
The statement said they were looking into filing a lawsuit against the Guardian.
At the same time, Hun Sen said the prime minister, upper and lower houses speakers and head of the constitutional council must only hold Cambodian citizenship “to show loyalty to the nation and avoid foreign interference”.
Hun Sen, one of the world’s longest-serving leaders after more than three decades in power, came days after a report in the Guardian named him as one of thousands of non-Europeans given Cypriot passports, citing information in a data dump known collectively as the “Pandora Papers”.
Hun Sen’s Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) has been in power since 1979 and controls the legislature following the dissolution of the main opposition party three years ago for allegedly plotting to overthrow the government.
A Reuters Special Report in October 2019 showed family members and key police, business and political associates of Hun Sen had used their wealth to buy a foreign nationality via a citizenship for sale arrangement in Cyprus.
Among those who have acquired or applied for European Union passports through the Cypriot scheme are Hun Sen’s niece and her husband, who is Cambodia’s national police chief; the country’s most powerful business couple, who are old family friends; and the finance minister, a long-time Hun Sen adviser.
Photos on social media also show Hun Sen’s relatives enjoying luxurious European lifestyles – boating in Capri, skiing in Verbier, partying in Ibiza – which are at odds with the prime minister’s self-styled image as the humble leader of ordinary Cambodians.
Hun Sen is 69 and has ruled Cambodia with an iron fist for more than three decades. He has jailed or exiled political rivals, shut down media outlets and crushed street protests.