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CNRP biding time as UN maps head home

After stating maps loaned from the UN matched its own charts and thus affirmed its demarcation of the Vietnamese border, the government was scheduled to send them back to New York this morning, leaving the opposition waiting for a closer look at some copies to verify the claims.

Last Thursday, as they were officially received, the 18 charts were overlaid with the government’s maps, the borders seemingly corresponding.

Senior Minister of Border Affairs Va Kim Hong declared the matter resolved.

Yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Hor Namhong presided over a ceremony at the Council of Ministers to return the documents to UN library acting director Mereani Keleti Vakasisikakala, said government spokesman Tith Sothea.

But the opposition – although distancing itself from past criticism by some of its lawmakers that the government ceded land by using pro-Vietnam demarcation maps – isn’t dropping the issue just yet.

Yet to be given access to the maps, the party is waiting for Prime Minister Hun Sen to make good on a pledge to include them in the verification process, opposition Senator Seng Mardi said yesterday.

“We cannot make any conclusions until we have seen the government’s maps, the UN maps and compare them to the copies that we received from the library [in France],” he said, referencing maps obtained from Paris the opposition says are the original Indochina charts mandated in Cambodia’s Constitution.

“If the government wants transparency, if they want national unity on this issue, they really need to be up front about sharing information, and right now they have not shared that information with us.”

Mardi said an official request for access would be sent upon the return from abroad of Cambodia National Rescue Party president Sam Rainsy and deputy Kem Sokha.

Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron last week responded to another of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s requests for colonial-era maps of Cambodia.

Cameron wrote that while no such maps of the Kingdom were found in the National Archives, charts by the Service Geographie de I’Indochine – which mapped the Kingdom’s current borders between 1933 and 1955 – were held independently in the British Library.

Responding to Cameron on Monday, Hun Sen agreed with the suggestion to send Cambodia’s ambassador in London to search the library.

The government is still waiting on maps from France and the US.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the maps had been returned on Tuesday, August 25. In fact, they were returned at a ceremony on Wednesday.
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