Hot on the heels of his promise to relinquish power following his party’s election defeat, First Prime Minister Ung Huot has congratulated the winners on their success in the polls.
But even as he graciously accepted his defeat, Ung Huot hinted he is not yet ready for unemployment, and still harbors ambitions of some form of public office or advisory role.
“I would like to congratulate you upon the victory of the CPP,” he wrote in a Friday letter to National Assembly Chairman and CPP President Chea Sim. “Despite the fact that Reastr Niyum party did not receive the result which we had expected, we can still continue cooperating with each other.
“I would ask you not to hesitate if you have in mind some capacity in which I can contribute suggestions and any kind of assistance for the interest of the nation,” the letter continued.
At a press conference last week, Ung Huot conceded he would not be able to serve the nation in a ministerial capacity, as his party failed to gain a single Assembly seat.
In a separate letter to his former coalition partner, Second Prime Minister Hun Sen, the man most credited for elevating the foreign minister to the premiership, Ung Huot reminisced happily about their year-long liaison.
“In the past, I was very happy and proud to work with you,” he wrote in the letter, also dated Friday.
“I am sorry to be unable to continue to cooperate with you anymore, because the election result does not permit it.”
Ung Huot’s willingness to work with Hun Sen after CPP-loyal forces effectively ousted then-first prime minister Prince Norodom Ranariddh in July 1997 cost him his membership in the Funcinpec party, in whose name he held the first premiership.
A pared-down Funcinpec went on to take second place in the elections, but Ung Huot last week expressed no regrets about the path he had taken, saying, “it was right at the time.”