WASHINGTON DC - Prince Norodom Ranariddh, the one-time rival of Prime Minister Hun Sen and the head of his own royalist party, claims he is giving up on politics.
In a statement issued last week, the prince said he will now serve the public by helping his brother, the current king, Norodom Sihamoni, as an adviser.
"I would like to declare that from now on, I cease politics, and I will not take any responsibility for any of the work or declarations of the Norodom Ranariddh Party," he said.
The move signals the prince's inability to gain seats in parliament for his royalist party, said Ou Virak, head of the Cambodian Center for Human Rights.
It also means the retirement of a one-time co-prime minister, whose wide popularity made him a major political rival of the ruling party. He was unseated in a bloody coup in 1997 and never politically recovered. He was also accused of corruption and spent time in exile before he was allowed back for elections in 2008.
Support for the royalist parties has waned in recent elections, with both the Norodom Ranariddh Party and the older Funcinpec with poor showings in the 2008 national elections and this year's local commune elections.