Vietnam Suspends Road Construction in Mondolkiri Province

A Vietnamese construction crew last month halted the extension of one of the country’s roads into a remote part of Mondolkiri province after complaints were lodged by Cambodian authorities, officials said on Thursday.

O’Reang district Governor Nang Nary said the crew ceased laying the road just before it reached a river inside Cambodia that Vietnam has in the past claimed forms the true border between the two countries. 

“Vietnam stopped building the road over a month ago after they reached to within 100 meters of the Dak Dang stream,” Mr. Nary said. He added that local authorities were also constructing a road in the area but delayed some planned work due to Vietnam’s repeated claims to the area.

“The Dak Dang Bridge is very old, but we have not yet repaired it because we do not know clearly whether the stream belongs to our territory or to Vietnam’s.”

Mondolkiri provincial Gover- nor Eng Bunheang said the land in question was indisputably Cambodia’s.

“Vietnam was really building a road inside Cambodian territory, and I reported it to the national level,” Mr. Bunheang said.

Cambodian Border Committee president Var Kimhong said Vietnam will not be able to claim the land on which the road was built. He explained that the government had repeatedly sent complaints to Hanoi, asserting that the land east of the river has belonged to Cambodia over the past decade.

“We are not 100 percent able to stop Vietnam building the road because this is a remote area, and Vietnam controlled this area for a very long time,” Mr. Kimhong said.

He said the 2005 supplemental border treaty with Vietnam designated parts of the land being built on as territory for the use of both countries—pending future talks—but that other portions clearly belonged to Cambodia.

“It is true that Vietnam has been building a road in Cambodia, and we have reacted to and protested against this, and we are scheduled to raise the issue before the end of the year at a meeting of the border committee,” he said.

CNRP lawmaker Mao Monyvann said he wrote a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen on October 14 requesting an update on the dispute, and argued that Cambodia would lose large swaths of land if Vietnam’s claim were tacitly recognized.

“I know that if Cambodia and Vietnam use the stream as the boundary, we will lose about 50 square km,” he said.

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