Following weeks of trips to disputed sites along the country’s border with Vietnam, the opposition CNRP issued an official statement on Thursday demanding that the government overhaul its border commission, cancel a 2005 border treaty and bring a case against Vietnam to international court.
Long a focus of Sam Rainsy’s political opposition, the CNRP’s latest campaign against the government’s handling of demarcating Cambodia’s border with its eastern neighbor has focused on four sites in the provinces of Ratanakkiri, Mondolkiri, Kandal and Tbong Khmum.
In a statement released Thursday, the CNRP says that after documenting multiple incursions by Vietnam, the government must broadly reform the way it is demarcating the border.
The CNRP demands that the government “file a complaint to International Court of Justice; and demands that the National Assembly convene a meeting and approve the cancellation of the 2005 supplementary border treaty.”
It also calls for a new border commission that includes members of the opposition and civil society groups, as well as the release of maps being used in negotiations between Cambodia and Vietnam, so they can be checked against physical border markers.
CNRP lawmaker Mao Monyvann, who has been leading recent trips to the border, said on Friday that two recent diplomatic notes from the Foreign Affairs Ministry to Vietnam complaining of border irregularities in Ratanakkiri and Kandal should provide an impetus for reform.
“Because the Cambodian government has also acknowledged that Vietnam dug ponds on Cambodian soil [in Ratanakkiri] and is building a military post on a contested area in Kandal, so it is appropriate for the National Assembly to hold a plenary meeting to cancel the supplementary border treaty signed by Cambodia and Vietnam in 2005,” Mr. Monyvann said.
The controversial 2005 treaty was blasted by everyone from the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk to a slew of opposition activists, a number of whom were imprisoned for criticizing the treaty after Prime Minister Hun Sen filed defamation lawsuits.
Var Kimhong, the chairman of Cambodia’s border commission, could not be reached on Friday. CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said the CNRP was simply using the border issue to score political points.
“Whatever they are saying and doing is just for political propaganda to gain interest and popularity for their party,” Mr. Eysan said. “Furthermore, there is no reason to cancel the supplementary border treaty because we have implemented it smoothly for 10 years.”
Mr. Eysan also said there was no need to change the border committee.
“Indeed, border affairs is the government’s responsibility—to protect Cambodia’s sovereignty. So there is no need to create another border committee because the government has an existing border committee as an agency to work on this,” he said.