Cambodia issued a second diplomatic protest to Vietnam on Wednesday requesting that the communist government stop building a military post on its territory until the two countries have completed their demarcation of their borders in the area.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued the notice to the Vietnamese embassy in Phnom Penh, asking officials to stop the large-scale construction of the post close to Preksbov village, Sampeou Poun commune, Koh Thom district of Kandal province in the country’s southeast.
The letter, a copy of which was obtained by RFA, referred to an earlier request sent June 8 in which the foreign ministry asked Vietnam to stop digging land to lay the foundation for the military post.
Foreign affairs ministry spokesman Chum Sounry said the government wants Vietnam to cease all activities until the border is demarcated.
“Our stand is clear,” he told RFA’s Khmer Service.” We have constantly made complaints because we have regarded the Vietnamese action as a violation of Cambodian territory. We are protesting against Vietnam to immediately stop construction.”
The letter referenced a Joint Border Commission meeting between the two nations in Hanoi on April 24 during which Cambodian officials requested that Vietnam stop construction in the area.
Cambodian authorities in Kandal province also asked their Vietnamese counterparts in An Giang province to cease activities in the area on April 21 and June 9, the letter said.
“But the Vietnamese authorities of An Giang Province still continue the construction of the military post on a larger scale,” the letter read.
CNRP welcomes government’s move
Lawmaker Oum Sam of the opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) told RFA that he welcomed the government’s move, but added that the country should consider submitting the complaints to the International Court of Justice if Vietnam did not respect the border treaty between the two nations.
“I support the government in that it sent a diplomatic note to protest the border issue,” he said. “So far, Vietnam has continued to violate Cambodian territory regardless of the protest note. Cambodian villagers who are living along the border continue to lose land to Vietnam.”
During a meeting of the CNRP board of directors on Wednesday, the party decided to request that the government consider allowing CNRP members to serve on the border committee that oversees border demarcation, he said.
“We want the government to halt all demarcation processes until after the 2018 national election because right now we are losing land to Vietnam,” Oum Sam said.
Sam Rainsy, CNRP president, would meet soon with Prime Minister Hun Sen to discuss border issues with Vietnam, he said.
“The border issue is not about the CNRP or the [ruling] CPP [Cambodian People’s Party],” he said. “We want Khmer unity between the CPP and CNRP. We don’t want fights among the Khmer that benefits foreigners.”
Cambodia and Vietnam signed a joint communiqué in January 1995, which stipulates that neither side can make any changes to border markers or allow people to carry out cross-border cultivation or settlement, pending the resolution of outstanding border issues.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.