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Cambodia keeps cool after coup in Thailand

Cambodia keeps cool after coup in Thailand

As news broke yesterday evening that the Thai political situation had evolved from martial law to a full-blown coup d’etat, Cambodian government officials said they hoped the army’s takeover would be transitional and dismissed any concerns that tensions could rise on the Cambodia-Thailand border.

”We wish to see this [coup] not jeopardising democratic transition, maintaining peace and stability, and still respecting [and safeguarding] the will and interest of the Thai people,” Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said.

He added that nothing was expected to change on the border with Thailand, particularly in the vicinity of the Preah Vihear temple, an area that was ruled as being under Cambodian sovereignty by the International Court of Justice in November last year.

“The ICJ [ruling] did not rule the [Thai] government, it ruled the Thai nation, and the Thai nation has an obligation to respond to [that] international obligation,” he said.

At an ASEAN summit earlier this month, Prime Minister Hun Sen initiated a declaration urging the “full respect of democratic principles” in resolving Thailand’s political standoff, days after Thai Premier Yingluck Shinawatra was ousted by her country’s Constitutional Court for abuse of power.

Hun Sen maintains a close relationship with Yingluck’s brother, Thaksin Shinawatra, who was widely believed to pull the strings behind his sister’s administration.

But Siphan said yesterday that Cambodia and Hun Sen would always respect “mutual interests between the two nations” and any government “chosen officially by Thai people and [approved by] the Thai king”.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said he could not officially comment on the coup.

Political analyst Chea Vannath said yesterday that it was important for Cambodia to “remain neutral in Thai politicking” to avoid any party “retaliating” when in power.

She added that while the future of Thailand’s leadership hangs in the balance, it would be too “black and white” to say that a conservative administration coming to power would see a deterioration in relations between the two countries.

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