PHNOM PENH, Cambodia — President Barack Obama arrived in Cambodia today having just won four more years in office, but that is nothing compared to his host, Hun Sen. The 60-year-old Cambodian prime minister has held power since Ronald Reagan was in the White House, and says he’s not stepping down until he is 90.
Hun Sen is known as one of Asia’s most Machiavellian politicians, with a knack for making sure his rivals end up in jail or in exile. A laudatory biography is subtitled “Strongman of Cambodia,” and some would say that’s putting it mildly.
Over the last decade, he has also overseen modest economic growth and stability in a country plagued by desperate poverty and nearly destroyed by the Khmer Rouge’s “killing fields.”
Obama is making the first visit ever by a U.S. president to Cambodia because it is hosting the annual East Asia Summit. Obama has emphasized his concerns about Cambodia’s human rights situation.