After Coup in Thailand, Some Border Channels Closed

In the aftermath of Thursday’s military coup in Thailand, official border crossings have remained open, but dozens of smaller, informal channels have been closed by Thai authorities, local officials said on Friday.

Thai officials have also ordered a stop to Cambodian vehicles crossing the border to fill up with gas, a common practice since prices are often cheaper in Thailand, according to Banteay Meanchey governor Ko Sum Saroeut. 

“We were informed by officials from Thailand on Friday after the official announcement of the Thai army coup that they would temporarily stop allowing vehicles from Cambodia to cross the border for gas filling,” Mr. Sam Saroeut said.

He said a group of provincial and border officials met with Thai officials on Friday to try to negotiate a compromise so that Cam­bodians could continue crossing the border. Around 400 Cam­bo­dian vehicles cross the border daily to obtain gas for personal use or to sell in small amounts, according to Mr. Sam Saroeut.

As of Friday evening, the unofficial crossings remained closed, but the larger Poipet International Checkpoint, Boeng Trakuon Checkpoint, and Malai Check­point were open as normal.

Prime Minister Hun Sen is famously close with former Thai Premier Thaksin Shinawatra and has maintained good relations with his younger sister, Yingluck Shinawatra, who was ousted from the Thai premiership earlier this month after her government was paralyzed by months of protests. But Cambodian-Thai relations will not be affected by the military coup, a government spokesman insisted on Friday.

“Everything stays normal, as we keep stable for Thailand to solve the internal issue,” said Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan.

Mr. Siphan said the situation along the border was also normal. Mr. Hun Sen is currently on a state visit to China, but before departing last week he instructed troops stationed on the Thai border to remain calm.

On Thursday evening, shortly after the coup, Interior Minister Sar Kheng, who is serving as acting prime minister in Mr. Hun Sen’s absence, released a statement reiterating the call for calm.

“Promote better cooperation and relationship with your Thai counterparts and do not conduct any movement of forces,” Mr. Kheng told soldiers and police along the border.

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