The contested supplemental agreement to the 1985 treaty on the border between Cambodia and Vietnam was sent Friday from the Council of Ministers to the National Assembly and is now in the hands of acting National Assembly President Heng Samrin, officials said Sunday.
National Assembly Deputy Secretary-General Chan Ven confirmed that the document arrived Friday and was sent to Heng Samrin, who he said would soon send it to the Assembly’s Permanent Commission, which will put it on the agenda for debate.
National Assembly President Prince Norodom Ranariddh is in France teaching law classes.
Chan Ven added that he could not read the border document because it was sealed and marked “urgent.”
Opposition lawmaker Son Chhay said that he, too, had heard that the text of the supplemental agreement had arrived at the Assembly but that he had not yet received a copy.
Son Chhay said he had read the copy of the agreement posted over the weekend on the Web site of the radio station Voice Of America, but said the text may have since been changed during the Council of Ministers meeting on Friday.
At Phnom Penh International Airport on Thursday after returning from China, Prime Minister Hun Sen promised that debate about the agreement at the Assembly would be free and fair.
“The power to ratify it rests with the National Assembly,” Hun Sen said, adding that he would “respect the decision” if the Assembly were to reject it.
He also took what appeared to be a veiled jab at the constitutionally enshrined requirements that the King give final approval to new laws and treaties.
“No one is above the National Assembly, because the Assembly represents the people,” he said. “I don’t care who signs it.”
The border issue has sparked debate in Cambodia for several weeks, and most Khmer-language TV stations over the weekend broadcast minutes from past border talks between Vietnam and Cambodia.
None of the stations, however, appeared to have broadcast a statement posted by retired King Norodom Sihanouk to his Web site on Oct 16 about the border issue.
Hun Sen on Thursday denied that reading of the retired King’s text had been banned, suggesting instead that the Royal Palace had simply neglected to ask TV stations to air the content of the document.