Rekindling the contentious issue of Cambodia’s disputed borders with Vietnam and breathing new life into the border agreement controversy that prompted Prime Minister Hun Sen to jail several critics late last year and early this year, Sam Rainsy on Sunday said he did not recognize the prime minister’s border agreement with Cambodia’s neighbor.
Sam Rainsy, leader of the party that bears his name, made his comments following a Buddhist ceremony in Doung village, located in Svay Rieng province’s Romeas Hek district, where several Cambodian homes are situated on undemarcated border land claimed by Vietnam and Cambodia.
“I believe that villagers have lost their lands,” Sam Rainsy said by telephone from Doung village.
“SRP has not supported the supplemental treaty,” he said, adding that he did not recognize the agreement reached between Hun Sen and the Vietnamese government that was later ratified by the National Assembly and signed by King Norodom Sihamoni.
Sam Rainsy added that King Sihamoni had no option but to sign the treaty in December. “The King has no power” to oppose it, he said.
Senior CPP lawmaker Cheam Yeap said that Sam Rainsy’s comments were made for purely political reasons.
“He wants to increase his own popularity,” Cheam Yeap said.
Once the government finishes installing boundary marks between Cambodia and Vietnam in 2008, no one will complain, he added.
When he returned from negotiating the border agreement in Vietnam on Oct 12, Hun Sen threatened to sue anyone who dared to criticize the deal. Several leading activists were arrested for making comments critical of the deal, which the prime minister branded as defamatory.
Sam Rainsy, who had been out of Cambodia for more than a year, during which time he was found guilty of another instance of defaming the prime minister, returned in early February after reaching a deal with Hun Sen.