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SRP to visit sensitive border area

LAWMAKERS from the opposition Sam Rainsy Party say they will visit sensitive areas along the Vietnamese border next week in order to probe local allegations of Vietnamese encroachments.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said opposition parliamentarians had already written to National Assembly President Heng Samrin to inform him that they intend to witness the planting of border demarcation post No 109 in Kampong Cham province’s Memot district.

The plans come after more than 200 villagers from Da commune thumbprinted a petition stating that the demarcation posts had been planted in their ricefields by Vietnamese authorities.

“Issues of territorial integrity are a national issue,” Yim Sovann said. “And each people’s representative has an obligation to go and defend the national interest.”

Preempting the expected government resistance to the border visit, he said the Constitution gave full rights for parliamentarians to oversee the work of the border demarcation teams.

The planned visit is just the latest in the SRP’s campaign to expose alleged border encroachments by Vietnam. The party’s self-exiled president, Sam Rainsy, has been sentenced to a total of 12 years’ prison on a series of charges relating to his attempt to expose what he claims are incursions in Svay Rieng province.

Cheam Yeap, a senior lawmaker for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party, said he was not interested in the SRP’s planned border visit, adding the party should let the government take responsibility for border affairs.

Var Kimhong, the senior minister in charge of border affairs, could not be reached for comment yesterday, but said last week that the government would block any group threatening to disturb the border demarcation process.

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