Lieutenant General John Murray Sanderson – a retired senior Australian Army officer and former Force Commander of the UN Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) – is set to pay a 10-day visit to the Kingdom along with his wife Lorraine Sanderson from April 23-May 2 to mark the 30th anniversary of UNTAC, according to a press statement from the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh.
UNTAC was established by the UN in 1992 to oversee the implementation of the Paris Peace Agreements, safe repatriation of Cambodians displaced by civil war and the 1993 national election.
Lieu Gen Sanderson commanded the UNTAC’s large multilateral force consisting of 12 infantry battalions and support units, military observers, and civilian police, with a 22,000-strong personnel from around 40 different countries. Australia had contributed over 1,200 personnel to UNTAC, the embassy said.
The visit is also part of the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and Cambodia.
During the visit, Lieu Gen Sanderson will pay a courtesy call on King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath Sihanouk and will also meet with Prime Minister Hun Sen, senior officials, provincial governors and civil society representatives.
“These meetings provide an opportunity to reflect on the personal contributions and friendships that have built Australia and Cambodia’s strong relationship over the past 70 years, and consider how we can further strengthen our relationship into the future,” the statement said.
The embassy said Lieu Gen Sanderson will open an exhibition organised by the embassy and supported by the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies and the Asian Vision Institute to commemorate the 30th anniversary of UNTAC at Raffles Hotel Le Royal in Phnom Penh.
The “UNTAC exhibition” will be open to the public from 7am to 9pm every day from 29 April to May 28.
“Australia is a long-standing friend, partner and neighbour of Cambodia. Our 70th anniversary of bilateral relations this year is an important opportunity to reflect on our long history of cooperation in health, agriculture, infrastructure, education and our people-to-people links, including our significant contribution to UNTAC,” the embassy said.
Kin Phea, director of the Royal Academy of Cambodia’s International Relations Institute, said Australia played an important role in building peace in Cambodia. And the visit of Sanderson was to recall Australia’s contribution that process.
“It also reflected the commitment of Australia to exercising the Paris Peace Agreements and their continuation of the spirit of the accords. What Australia wants to stress is the implementation of democracy, human rights and the principle of the rule of law,” he said.