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Hun Sen's son aims to make Cambodia high-income country by 2050

Cambodia’s Prime Minister Hun Manet attends an event to meet with garment workers, on the outskirts of Phnom Penh

By Kate Lamb

JAKARTA (Reuters) - New Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet on Monday laid out his vision to lift the Southeast Asian country into the high-income category by 2050, in his first public remarks at an international forum since taking office.

The 45-year-old last month took over power from his father Hun Sen after a lopsided general election that all opposition parties were barred from contesting.

Speaking at an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) business forum in the Indonesian capital, the Western-educated leader said Cambodia had recently launched an overarching national economic vision to "safeguard the nature of hard-gained peace and accelerate national development to achieve the milestone of becoming a high-income country by 2050".

The vision involves developing human capital, the digital economy and inclusivity and sustainability, he said, referring to it as the "pentagon strategy".

In a country once riven by decades of war, Cambodia has now evolved to a lower-middle income nation with economic growth rates of 7%, he said.

Speaking ahead of the annual ASEAN summit on Tuesday, the Westpoint graduate and four-star general acknowledged a tightening of geopolitical rivalry among major powers, which he said was putting pressure on "peace, security and prosperity for ASEAN as a whole".

Observing that "war cannot be ended by war", Hun Manet called on ASEAN and international communities to oppose the threat of force against a sovereign state, and said ASEAN and the United Nations must "adhere to the spirit of independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-interference".

Cambodia's parliament approved Hun Manet as prime minister in August. His father, Hun Sen, ruled Cambodia for almost four decades, a time analysts said was marked by increasing autocracy, the suppression of political opposition and shuttering of a free press.

Hun Sen, one of the world's longest ruling leaders, has said he expects his son to continue his leadership style and will himself remain in politics.

(This story has been refiled to change the headline)

(Reporting by Kate Lamb; Editing by Kanupriya Kapoor and Nick Macfie)