The Paris Peace Accords signed in 1991 will reach their 31st anniversary on October 23, but analysts and politicians harbour different views regarding the historic agreement.
Meas Ny, a social development researcher, said that for over 31 years the Paris Peace Accords have been at the centre of debates between civil society and politicians and also between politicians and politicians.
“After the Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) was dissolved, the October 23 Paris Peace Agreement became a subject of debate among various parties. But just a few years later, the debate seems to have reached a consensus, with the government and civil society both acknowledging that the agreement is still valid, with only smaller points of disagreement,” he said.
He observed that there remained a difference in opinion because the government claimed that the October 23 agreement’s contents were enshrined in the Constitution.
“Such a claim is not wrong, because the Cambodian Constitution was established after the Paris Agreement and it included all of its contents and really reflected the spirit of the agreement,” he said.
Pheng Sophea is a Cambodian citizen born in 1991. She said that she had learned about the Paris Peace Accords while growing up and she thought that the implementation of the Paris Agreement has had both positive and negative results.
“We, young people, have learned about the Paris Agreement more easily through technology than others did 30 years ago. We have realised that the positive points of the implementation of the Paris Agreement have brought significant benefits to the Cambodian people, who established a democratic constitution,” she said.
Sophea encouraged young people to take part in the care and protection of democracy.
“We must monitor the situation to see if the changes or amendments to the constitution are in line with the Paris Peace Agreement to avoid misrepresentation or a situation where citizens lose their authority,” she said.
Sok Eysan, spokesman for the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), said that the CPP-led government had properly implemented and followed the spirit of the Paris Peace Agreement on Cambodia.
“Thanks to this agreement, we have achieved peace and national unity. We have maintained the constitutional monarchy and a multi-party liberal democracy. We have also adhered to the principles of democracy and the rule of law, which has made Cambodia more politically stable under the principles of the agreement,” he said.
He noted that over the past 31 years, while some dissenting voices have induced people to believe misinterpretations about the implementation of the agreement, those voices could not induce most people to believe their propaganda.
Prime Minister Hun Sen has previously reacted strongly to commentators who criticised the amendments to the constitution, after those unnamed critics said the amendment was in violation of the Paris Peace Agreement.
He called such critical remarks offensive and warned that the authorities could take legal action if they continued to misrepresent the facts.