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Border Affairs Council no match for the Strongman

Border Affairs Council no match for the Strongman

Prime Minister Hun Sen has made it clear that the former King Norodom Sihanouk-led

Supreme National Council on Border Affairs (SNCBA) will remain an advisory body only,

although CPP chairman Chea Sim weighed into the issue by saying he thought the former

King was well-qualified to tackle border problems.

In a speech delivered June 28 at the 54th anniversary party of the CPP, Sim referred

to former King Sihanouk as the father of national independence, sovereignty and Khmer

national unity. He spoke highly of the SCNBA and the former King's ability to carry

out his mandate.

"The recent creation of the [SNCBA] presided over by the heroic King Samdech

Preah Norodom Sihanouk was a demonstration of the common will of top national institutions

and Khmer politicians to consolidate the process of resolving the border issues with

neighboring countries which are considered as the death and life issue of the nation,"

Sim said. "The first meeting of the [SNCBA] has produced a positive outcome."

Border issues came to a head earlier this month when Funcinpec President Prince Norodom

Ranariddh informed Prime Minister Hun Sen that an unnamed Prince had threatened a

future rebellion over failure to deal with border issues. This led to Hun Sen's suggestion

in a speech he delivered on June 18 that the man's wife and children prepare a coffin.

Though Hun Sen refused to name the Prince, he did issue a warning to Suth Dina, the

president of the Khmer Front Party and the Democratic Front of Khmer Students &

Intellectuals, suggesting that the man look carefully at the Constitution. Dina is

an activist who has led demonstrations to encourage the government to resolve border

issues.

The Prime Minister defended his threat to use "all means necessary" to

put down any rebellion, asking rhetorically, "We are the leaders of the government.

Why would we allow a coup d'etat?"

The Prime Minister had previously assumed the presidency of a newly formed National

Authority on Border Affairs (NABA) on June 14, which has the right to negotiate and

sign treaties with neighboring countries.

Sihanouk seemed to take the relegation of the SNCBA to an advisory body in stride.

"Samdech Hun Sen ... does not allow me any power, and I am happy that he takes

all the responsibility for this issue," said Sihanouk, after returning from

Beijing on June 22 where he has been receiving medical treatment for cancer.

The opposition Sam Rainsy Party has also expressed support for former King Sihanouk

and the SNCBA.

"I think that only the retired King would be able to resolve border issues,

because of his long experience and the influence he has with the international community,"

party member Keo Remy said. "With all Khmer politicians respecting the retired

King, why won't they allow the retired King to work resolving these border issues?"

Still, Hun Sen maintained some perspective on Cambodia's royal power struggles, comparing

them favorably with those of Nepal.

"Cambodia is not like Nepal, where the King dissolved the government to maintain

power," Hun Sen said. "Cambodia's former King Sihanouk is not as ambitious

as Nepal's King, and even if he were, our Constitution prohibits such actions."

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