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Border posts back in spotlight

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks with local farmers in jungle near the Vietnamese border in Svay Rieng province
Opposition leader Sam Rainsy speaks with local farmers in jungle near the Vietnamese border in Svay Rieng province. BEN WOODS/CNRP

Border posts back in spotlight

Cambodia National Rescue Party leader Sam Rainsy was back in familiar territory – both politically and physically – this week as he vowed to seek legal means to uproot new posts along the border with Vietnam.

Coming into the last week of the CNRP’s subnational election campaign, Rainsy and his deputy, Kem Sokha, visited Svay Rieng province’s Romduol district on Monday and spoke to farmers in Than Thnung commune who complained about the posts, according to a video of the exchange posted on Rainsy’s Facebook page.

“My grandparents lived in this district. My cashews have been planted since 1982. [They planted a post] on my farm,” farmer Nou Neang told Rainsy, referring to a border marking made in April.

The CNRP leader then uses the opportunity to criticise the government’s handling of border demarcation, an ongoing process.

“We will demand every legal, nonviolent and peaceful way to have them uproot this post [and move it] back to Vietnam, giving back land to Khmer farmers,” the CNRP leader says in the video.

The claim may elicit a feeling of deja vu. In 2009, Rainsy uprooted border posts in Chantrea, a district near Romduol.

The stunt earned him the ire of the authorities and forced him to flee to France to avoid a prison term. He returned on the back of a royal pardon last year.

After telling the story again, this time Rainsy chose to leave the post in the ground.

Va Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, dismissed the allegations yesterday. He said that in some areas, the posts extended unintentionally onto Cambodian and Vietnamese sides, but that no land was lost.

“This affair has not been done yet,” he said. “So the border committees of both countries are solving it.”

Kimhong added that the border marking in Romduol that Rainsy visited was temporary and that, in the future, some posts could be moved.

“I guarantee [she will] not lose farmland where the cashews are planted,” he said.

“Her land still remains the same, her farm is still the same.”

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