Subscribe Search

Search form

Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Breaking: PM gives Laotian troops six days to leave border area

Breaking: PM gives Laotian troops six days to leave border area

Cambodian military engineers return from a disputed border area to Stung Treng province’s Siem Pang town in April.
Cambodian military engineers return from a disputed border area to Stung Treng province’s Siem Pang town in April. Pha Lina

Breaking: PM gives Laotian troops six days to leave border area

Prime Minister Hun Sen today gave Laos six days to withdraw troops from a border area in Stung Treng province’s Siem Pang district, where the construction of a road by Cambodian military engineers has led to tense stand-offs since February.

Speaking at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh, the premier said he had placed the military on alert, saying it was “unacceptable” that Laotian troops had been sent across the Sekong River into Cambodia.

“Since April, our Laotian friends have sent forces into Cambodia’s territory in the O’alay area of Stung Treng province for the purpose of preventing us from building the road we want to build on our own land,” Hun Sen said, referring to an area in Santepheap commune.

“In the past day I have written a letter to the Lao prime minister [Thongloun Sisoulith] to request him to remove the force… There is no response yet.

“[Laos must] remove troops from Cambodia without conditions… the ultimatum is that August 17 is the deadline. I give you six days, if you do not want a problem, you remove the force.”

Conflict over the road, which, when finished, will skirt Cambodia’s northern border and join with another section being built in Ratanakkiri province, flared up in February, when hundreds of Laotian soldiers crossed the Sekong and demanded work stop, claiming the road ran through a yet-to-be demarcated area.

Cambodian military engineers building the road initially suspended work in response, though construction continued quietly in April.

Since then, Hun Sen said about 30 Laotian soldiers had been deployed across the Sekong, which marks the natural boundary between the two countries in that area.

The premier said he had spoken with the Laotian prime minister in May and told him to remove the soldiers.

“I told him clearly that we can tolerate each other but the lower level officials, they cannot tolerate each other and we need to be careful of causing a problem,” he said, adding that, subsequently, officials from the countries’ border committees were dispatched to inspect the site.

Frustrated at being “ignored” by Laos, Hun Sen said he had ordered Foreign Minister Prak Sokhonn to meet with officials at the country’s embassy in Phnom Penh and instructed Stung Treng Governor Mam Saroeun to meet with his counterpart from Laos’ Attapeu province, which borders Cambodia.

He also said he had ordered Defence Minister Tea Banh, military Commander-in-Chief Pol Saroeun, and Deputy Commander-in-Chief Kun Kim to prepare, adding that troops from the Preah Vihear-based Intervention Division 2 would be sent to the area, as well as soldiers from Brigade 21.

“If brothers and sisters see the troop mobilisation, please do not be shocked. Their destination is Stung Treng,” he said.

“We cannot allow anyone to step on Cambodian territory…a friend is a friend, but when a friend steps on our heads, it cannot be.

“Pol Sareoun, Tea Banh and Kun Kim have received the order, and if there is an unusual situation that takes place, please do not blame Cambodia.”

The premier added that he wanted to meet with his counterpart before “taking measures”, and also suggested obliquely that there may be someone “behind” Laos’ incursion.

“If there is, will we smash to break the one behind it,” he said.

“We do not announce war but we just want to take our land.”


  • Kak Channthy, Cambodian Space Project frontwoman, killed in crash at 38 [Updated]

    Updated 5:05pm, Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Kak Channthy, frontwoman of popular The Cambodian Space Project, was killed Tuesday morning in a traffic accident in Phnom Penh. She was 38. Channthy, the internationally recognised singer-songwriter also known as “Srey Thy”, was reportedly travelling in a tuk-tuk on the city's

  • Australians protest Asean summit visit by PM Hun Sen

    Hundreds of protesters gathered in Sydney’s Hyde Park on Friday to protest against Cambodian strongman Hun Sen, who claimed to have been gifted millions of dollars by the Australian government ahead of a special Asean summit this weekend. An estimated 300 protesters, the majority of

  • One Australian, one Cambodian killed in explosion at military base

    Updated: 5:20pm, Friday 16 March 2018 An Australian tourist and a Cambodian soldier were killed in an explosion on Thursday afternoon at an army base in Cambodia’s Kampong Speu province. The Australian, whom the government initially identified as a technical demining expert in his 40s, and

  • Peeling back layers of prehistory in Battambang

    When the man passed away, he had not yet reached 50. He belonged to a tribe that had settled near the Sangker River in Battambang province, likely cultivating the fields and raising animals. On the side, they hunted for boars, and even turtles, one of which