Jailed KNUP president Nhek Bun Chhay, who was charged last week in connection with a 10-year-old drug case, is urging his colleagues to keep the party going after issuing a vague apology to Prime Minister Hun Sen and the ruling CPP.
“I am extremely remorseful that I could not continue my mission with all of you due to my wrong decision,” Mr. Bun Chhay wrote in a letter to party members dated Wednesday.
“I would like to admit my overall fault with honesty and good faith that I did something inappropriate to Samdech Hun Sen…and the CPP,” he said.
With the future of the party in doubt, a KNUP spokesman said on Thursday that senior officials would meet today to discuss who would take the helm as the party’s acting leader.
Mr. Bun Chhay, a former general during the time the royalist Funcinpec party shared power with the CPP in the 1990s, was charged on August 6 with being an accomplice to drug production and importing substances to produce drugs in a 2007 case.
His unspecified wrongdoing had resulted in KNUP officials losing their government jobs, he said in the letter. Twelve party members were ousted as government advisers after recordings were leaked of the KNUP leader allegedly pledging his support to the opposition CNRP in June.
“For the KNUP’s fate, I would like to entrust with all of you, members, to consider and decide democratically,” Mr. Bun Chhay wrote.
He lauded Mr. Hun Sen for bringing peace, stability and development to Cambodia and negotiating a recent deal to avoid armed conflict with Laos.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said on Thursday that it was unclear whether Mr. Bun Chhay’s admission to wrongdoing was intended to keep other KNUP officials in government positions.
Mao Phanna, a former adviser to Mr. Bun Chhay, said the future of the party was in doubt after the leader was charged.
“Without Nhek Bun Chhay, the party would no longer be popular,” Mr. Phanna said.
Ouk Vandeth, Mr. Bun Chhay’s lawyer, said he had not filed a bail request on behalf of his client, who is being detained in Phnom Penh’s PJ prison.