After almost three months of campaigning by the opposition for the government to release the maps it uses to demarcate Cambodia’s borders, a scholar tasked with researching the recent border tensions said Wednesday that the government’s maps are identical to those the opposition has.
The government has refused to make public the maps it uses to demarcate the border since the issue flared in June, sparking accusations from the opposition that it has used illegal maps to cede land to Vietnam. However, last week the government gave its maps to Royal Academy of Cambodia scholar Sok Touch, asking him to resolve the border issue.
Mr. Touch, who heads the academy’s international relations institute, said by telephone Wednesday that the government’s maps were identical to the CNRP’s.
“Every map I have received from the government, from the CNRP, from the U.S. and France are exactly the same, except for the maps sent by the U.N.,” he said. “I will hold a press conference on Friday…so everyone can see.”
The Constitution says that only the border maps drawn by the French between 1933 and 1953 at a 1:100,000 scale and deposited at the U.N. by then Prince Norodom Sihanouk in the 1960s can be used for border demarcation.
Prime Minister Hun Sen last month wrote to the U.N. requesting the maps, but the U.N. responded last week saying it could not find them. Instead, it offered maps of the border sent by Prince Sihanouk as part of a complaint over U.S. bombing during the Second Indochina War.
Ou Chanrith, acting spokesman for the CNRP, which has threatened to use maps and GPS technology to verify the 1,228-km border with Vietnam, said Wednesday that the opposition would reserve judgment of Mr. Touch’s assessment until it had analyzed the maps itself.
“The CNRP wants the maps from the other parties as well as the government, and also the maps that the government received from the U.N. to conduct studies too, before we conclude whether the maps are the same,” he said.
CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said he believed that Mr. Touch’s initial findings have vindicated the government.
“The verification from four sources: the government, the CNRP, the French library and the U.S. Library of Congress show they have the same characteristics, so this is a good thing that clears confusion among the public and the people who have accused the government of using fake maps,” he said.
“The government’s maps are exactly the same as the maps of the accusers, so it will help eradicate such incorrect accusations against the government.”