Hours after French officials handed over a set of maps to Cambodia on Thursday, the government border committee announced that the documents matched its own, calling an end to an ongoing political dispute over the demarcation of the Southeast Asian nation’s border with neighboring Vietnam.
The opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP), a merged political grouping that includes the Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) in the Senate, has accused Prime Minister Hun Sen’s government of ceding land to Vietnam based on its own set of incorrect charts that adhere to a 1985 agreement signed by the two countries during Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia.
Former colonial ruler France had agreed to lend a set of maps to Cambodia following a request from Hun Sen, who also requested the same maps from the United Nations, United States and United Kingdom.
“The French maps match the Cambodian maps that are being used to demarcate Cambodia-Vietnam border,” Var Kimhong, chairman of Cambodia’s border committee, told reporters during a verification ceremony in Phnom Pehn.
French officials loaned Cambodia 25 pieces from the 26-piece map set, produced by its National Geographic Institute (IGN) prior to Cambodian independence in 1953, because they had failed to locate the final one.
Cambodia officials used their own final piece when they compared the complete sets to verify that the charts currently used by the government to demarcate the 1,228-kilometer (763-mile) border with Vietnam matched.
Foreign Minister Hor Namhong, who presided over the map verification process, prevented participants from asking questions.
But during a speech, he attacked the CNRP, saying it was exploiting the border issue for political gain.
“The maps issue must be finished at this time,” he said. “We don’t want political parties using the border issue to incite people to go against the government.”
CNRP lawmaker Ou Chanrith, who was involved in the map verification, expressed suspicion about the process because the government did not allow representatives from opposition political parties to raise questions about the documents.
“We can’t say that this verification process is acceptable,” he told reporters. “The CNRP at this time is collecting documents and other information to verify the maps separately [from the government].”
Ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP) spokesman Chhim Phalvorun told RFA earlier this week that if the Cambodian and French maps matched, it would dispel any allegations that the government has been using incorrect charts.
Cambodia’s maps matched those in the 1964 set sent by the U.N. in early August.
On Aug. 26, Um Sam An, a CNRP lawmaker who is traveling in the United States on a fundraising tour, said he found the corresponding U.S. set of maps in the Library of Congress in Washington and copied it to verify against Cambodia’s set.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.