CAMBODIAN and Vietnamese officials say they are pushing forward bilateral demarcation efforts on northern stretches of the two countries’ 1,270-kilometre shared border.
The state-run Voice of Vietnam radio station announced on Wednesday that army engineers in the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong were
gearing up for the planting of eight border markers on the frontier with Cambodia’s Mondulkiri province.
Prime Minister Hun Sen also announced Wednesday that, by the end of 2010, the government was hoping to finish the demarcation process for the 500-kilometre stretch of border running from the northernmost point of Ratanakkiri province into Kratie province.
“To the east we are searching to plant the [border] markers. This year [we] are trying to demarcate 500 kilometres [of the border], starting from where the Cambodian, Lao and Vietnamese borders meet down to Kratie province,” he said.
The demarcation of the border with Vietnam has been dogged by controversy in recent months, with the opposition Sam Rainsy Party (SRP) alleging that four border markers in Svay Rieng province have been placed up to 500 metres inside Cambodia’s legal territory, as defined on French- and American-drawn maps.
Government officials deny the allegations, saying party president Sam Rainsy falsified public documents in order to demonstrate the incursions were real.
SRP spokesman Kimsour Phirith said that the party also planned to investigate the placement of border markers in other provinces, citing a lack of transparency in the placing of the Svay Rieng markers.
“It was mostly Vietnamese engineers who planted those posts – there was only one [official] from Cambodia who followed the Vietnamese experts,” he said, adding that the investigations would begin in Mondulkiri.
When contacted on Thursday, Var Kimhong, senior minister in charge of border affairs, did not give many details on the progress of the demarcation process in the northeast, but said they would be carried out bilaterally, with the involvement of both Cambodian and Vietnamese officials.
“We plan to finish planting demarcation posts in Mondulkiri according to the bilateral plan after we have a meeting in Ho Chi Minh City,” he said.
Mondulkiri provincial Governor Chan Yoeun and Kratie provincial Governor Kham Phoen could not be reached for comment.