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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - PM responds to opposition border claims

PM responds to opposition border claims

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has rejected opposition claims that Vietnam has encroached on Cambodian territory, saying farmers along the border have not lost any land.

In a letter dated November 8 in response to questions from Sam Rainsy Party lawmakers, Hun Sen said the process of demarcation was ongoing and depended on bilateral agreement.

“There are not any farmers who have lost their farmland, so the question raised is accusatory without basis,” Hun Sen said, adding that the motive behind the SRP allegations was “to attack the government for political benefit and to cause enmity between both countries, Cambodia and Vietnam”.

One border post in particular –  number 185 – has yet to be officially placed, so both Cambodian and Vietnamese farmers can work the land, Hun Sen said.

SRP head Sam Rainsy has been sentenced to a total of 12 years in jail in connection with claims that Vietnam has encroached into parts of Svay Rieng province near post 185. He is currently living in self-exile.

Hun Sen’s comments come just ahead of a visit from Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, who arrives today for several regional meetings.

Sam Rainsy said the fact that post 185 had not been officially placed vindicated his original claims. “This is a recognition that the land belongs to the Cambodian farmers”, he said by phone from Paris.

The opposition leader also demanded that the government issue land titles to two villagers who received one-year jail terms in connection with his border protest, saying he would return to face his jail term if this condition was met.

“It depends on the Cambodian government – if they want to get hold of me, give the land deeds to the farmers”, he said. “I am prepared to go back to Cambodia any time.”

Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yeap said the SRP’s trivial claims made Cambodia look foolish.

Vietnam “must think we have brain problems when issues like this are raised”, he said.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY SEBASTIAN STRANGIO

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