The National Assembly on Friday ratified the controversial supplemental agreement to the 1985 border treaty with Vietnam by a vote of 97 to zero.
All CPP and Funcinpec lawmakers present at the Assembly voted to approve the agreement, along with Khem Veasna, who has been dismissed from the opposition party but still holds an opposition seat in the Assembly.
Fourteen opposition party lawmakers walked out of the Assembly chamber before the vote in protest.
Prime Minister Hun Sen thanked the body for ratifying the treaty, and said it reflected the Assembly’s high responsibility.
He added that he is committed to maintaining all existing Cambodian territory, and said further details of the exact border between the two countries remain to be resolved. “We still have a lot of issues to be addressed before setting up the border poles,” he said. “We must not leave the issue unsolved.”
Cabinet Minister Sok An said the agreement will prevent the loss of Cambodian land. “We have to maintain the land…for good and we will fence in the border securely,” he said. Officials from the ruling coalition have repeatedly said that the agreement cedes no land to Vietnam.
The supplemental agreement resolves six out of seven dispute zones in Mondolkiri, Kandal and Ratanakkiri provinces, while leaving a dispute in Dak Dam commune in Mondolkiri’s O’Reang district unresolved.
Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay described the occasion as “a sad day for Cambodians.”
“We lost the land,” he said. “We lost the last hope when the National Assembly and Senate do not serve the national interest.”
Opposition lawmaker Keo Remy called the supplemental
agreement “an illegal act.”
“The status of such an agreement is illegal and unconstitutional because all the agreements the government refers to were annulled by the existence of the Constitution,” he said.
Opposition lawmakers also protested that before they walked out, only two of their number, Son Chhay and Yim Sovann, were given the floor in the debate.
Khem Veasna said he was convinced by the debate that it was necessary to support the agreement.
The opposition party requested earlier this year that Khem Veasna be replaced for not representing the party’s views and allegedly criticizing monarchies, but the Assembly did not approve the substitution request.
During the debate, Khem Veasna implored Hun Sen to release those imprisoned for allegedly defaming Hun Sen over the agreement.
“They are not the right target,” he said.