The government has reassured Cambodians that the International Court of Justice’s November 11 verdict on the Preah Vihear temple will not rupture peace between Cambodia and Thailand.
Defence Minister Tea Banh told reporters yesterday that the two governments had already agreed to ensure peace, no matter what the verdict.
His words come as Thai political groups ramp up their nationalist rhetoric and schools call for more underground bunkers on the other side of the border.
“Our two governments have already said they will ensure peace, that the good relationship [continues] and calm will be kept along the Cambodia-Thai border whatever the result is,” he said at the RCAF peacekeeping training centre in Kampong Speu yesterday.
“It is the political will of the two governments to ensure peace and this does not include Thai groups who have bad intentions and want to create problems along the border.”
Fierce fighting that broke out along the border in 2011 left 18 dead. Following the fighting, Cambodia requested that the ICJ clarify its ruling in 1962 that recognised Cambodia’s sovereignty over the 11th-century Hindu temple but did not specify who the surrounding land belonged to.
In recent weeks, Thai nationalists groups have been calling on their government not to recognise any verdict from the ICJ, with some threatening to protest if the verdict goes Cambodia’s way.
Last week, Abhisit Vejjajiva, leader of the Democrat Party, accused the Thai government of “kowtowing” to Cambodia after a meeting between foreign ministers, the Bangkok Post reported.
Although Cambodia’s domestic political tensions remain firmly election-focused, Preah Vihear locals have begun preparing for the worst.
Muol Map, chief of Choam Ksan district’s Kantuot commune, located 27 kilometres from the border, said villagers had been warned about the impending ICJ decision.
“I instructed every villager in my commune to restore and clean the existing bunkers in preparation for any incident,” he said.