THE Council of Ministers on Tuesday moved to rebuke claims that markers on the Cambodia-Vietnam border were planted illegally.
The statement comes amid fresh debate two weeks before opposition leader Sam Rainsy is to face criminal charges for moving posts at the border.
In an interview with Voice of America last week, outspoken border activist Sean Pengse said the controversial border markers were planted illegally, because a 1985 treaty used as a basis for the border delineation was cancelled.
The government failed to consult with landowners who lost parts of their land to the divisive border, the Paris-based president of Cambodia’s Border Committee (CBC) claimed.
“It is illegal under national and international law. Only absolutely communist countries do things like this,” Sean Pengse told VOA Khmer, and also slammed the National Assembly, calling its lifting of opposition leader Sam Rainsy’s parliamentary immunity “undemocratic”.
The Council of Ministers, however, dismissed Sean Pengse’s concerns in a statement Tuesday.
“It is not true that the border markers were planted illegally because landowners were not informed. Border land is not recognised as privately owned land,” the statement read.
Land titles in the area were never issued, the statement continued, because the precise border was never clear.
A Sam Rainsy Party spokesman, however, rejected criticisms of Sean Pengse, calling the former minister of mines under the Lon Nol government a “border expert” who had the Kingdom’s best interests in mind.
“Sean Pengse has no political interests. He does not want to be a government minister,” SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said.
The public spat comes ahead of a January 27 court date in which SRP leader Sam Rainsy and five Svay Rieng province villagers have been called to face charges relating to the uprooting of border markers in October.