Assembly Ratifies Vietnam Border Agreement

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.

 

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