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PM calls for calm during Thai protests

PRIME Minister Hun Sen declared Monday that Cambodia will do nothing to provoke a confrontation with Thailand as Red Shirt protesters flood the streets of Bangkok in an attempt to bring down the government.

Roughly 90,000 of Thailand’s Red Shirts, supporters of fugitive former Thai prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra, have staged demonstrations in the Thai capital since Saturday, despite a 50,000-strong security force deployed to maintain order.

Speaking at the National Institute of Education in Phnom Penh on Monday, Hun Sen ordered a halt to all Cambodian troop movements along the Thai border until the chaos in Bangkok subsides.

“If it is not necessary, please do not move the troops in order to avoid confusion,” Hun Sen said, addressing Minister of Defence Tea Banh and Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF) Commander in Chief Pol Saroeun.

“We will not permit our soldiers and armed forces to do anything that could cause instability along the Thai-Cambodian border.”

The premier also called on Cambodian citizens working in Thailand to avoid getting caught up in the political unrest. Thailand said last week that any foreign workers who are caught participating in political demonstrations will automatically lose their right to work in the country and will be deported.

“I would like to call on all Cambodian people working in Thailand, both legally and illegally, not to participate in any demonstrations ... so that we do not give the impression that Cambodian nationals are gathering in Thailand,” Hun Sen said, calling the unrest an issue for Thailand to resolve on its own.

Srey Doek, commander of RCAF Division 3 in Preah Vihear province, said Monday that the situation along the border was normal, and that Cambodian troops were abiding by Hun Sen’s order to fix their positions.

“If there is not an invasion from the Thai side, we will not do anything,” Srey Doek said.

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