Opposition leader Sam Rainsy has levelled further criticism at the Vietnamese army’s alleged control of 40,000 hectares of economic land concessions (ELCs) in Ratanakkiri province, claiming that the grants are in violation of the Cambodian constitution.
Transferred over 2011 and 2012 to Vietnamese companies Veasna Investment, Chea Chanrith, Rama Khmer and Dai Dong Duong, the four ELCs near the O’Yadav border checkpoint are reported to be linked through their chairmen to the Vietnamese Army’s Corps 15.
Writing from self-imposed exile in a Facebook post on Saturday, opposition Cambodia National Rescue Party (CNRP) president Sam Rainsy said the ELCs violate Article 53 of the constitution, which prohibits the establishment of any foreign military base on Cambodian territory.
“Those 40,000 hectares of Cambodia’s territory now administered by the Vietnamese army have been turned into a military zone under the control of a foreign country” he wrote.
Rainsy went on to assert that they very act of an army occupying an area constitutes a military base, by definition.
“Therefore there are illegal Vietnamese military bases in Cambodia’s Ratanakkiri province – an abuse of the Constitution of Kingdom of Cambodia,” he added.
But government spokesman Phay Siphan dismissed Rainsy’s allegation, saying that the CNRP leader was simply seeking to raise his media profile.
“There is no point that contradicts the constitution because the receivers of economic concessions are Khmer national owners,” he said, adding that Rainsy’s claims were a display of incitement against the government.