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Delay in ICJ ruling mooted

120426_05

The government will not pressure the International Court of Justice to release an interpretation about disputed land around the Preah Vihear temple, it said yesterday, despite suggestions a resolution could be more than a year away.

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“We leave them [the judges] to do their job according to the rule of law of the ICJ,” Council of Ministers’ Press and Quick Reaction Unit spokesman Ek Tha said. “At the same time, the Royal Government of Cambodia wants to see an official interpretation of the ICJ come out as soon as possible, and the Cambodian government is very optimistic that the ICJ will uphold the 1962 decision.”

The Bangkok Post reported yesterday that the ICJ might not complete its consideration of the dispute until late next year if it asks Cambodia and Thailand to provide verbal testimony.

If that request is made, Thai Foreign Ministry spokesman Thani Thongphakdi was reported as saying, representatives will be required to travel to The Hague in the Netherlands.

“If both countries have to do this, the case is likely to be concluded in the second half of 2013,” he said. “Otherwise, it will be resolved within the first half of next year.”

After fierce clashes left at least 28 people dead last year, the government asked the ICJ to issue an interpretation that clarifies its 1962 decision to support Cambodia’s claim to the Preah Vihear temple.

The ICJ ordered both sides in July to “immediately” withdraw their forces from the Provisional Demilitarised Zone in response to clashes. Nine months later, forces from both sides remain.

Thailand and Cambodia both claim ownership of the 4.6 square kilometres around the temple, leading to clashes along the border in recent years.

The Thai position is that the court does not have the authority to decide the issue.

Chheang Vannarith, executive director of the Cambodian Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said Thailand had no political will to implement the ICJ’s order.

“Therefore, Thai government officials are always speculating – there is no official information – but we expect the ICJ will release its interpretation in November,” he said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Vong Sokheng at sokheng.vong@phnompenhpost.com

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