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ICJ verdict still not ‘accepted’

Cambodian border police stand alert at the Preah Vihear temple
Cambodian border police stand alert at the Preah Vihear temple on Tuesday. Yesterday, the Thai government said that it did not accept the ICJ verdict and would wait to engage in bilateral talks. Heng Chivoan

ICJ verdict still not ‘accepted’

A day after a Thai general said his nation planned to withdraw its troops from the vicinity of Preah Vihear temple as ruled by the International Court of Justice, the Thai government said they have yet to accept the ruling.

Sek Wannamethee, spokesman for the Thai foreign ministry, said yesterday that Thailand did not accept the world court’s ruling that clarified Cambodia’s sovereignty over the promontory of Preah Vihear.

“[We have] not accepted the ruling. Both sides need to meet,” he told the Post.

“Both sides need time to study and analyse the substance of [the] verdict. No troops [are] to be withdrawn, as both sides have not met yet.”

The ICJ judgment said Thailand was obliged to withdraw all guards, troops or police forces from the vicinity of the temple.

Whether Thailand accepted the ruling would be determined by bilateral talks “in good faith”, Wannamethee said.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said yesterday, however, that both sides had committed to “fully implementing” the ICJ decision.

“It is clear. Both sides have committed to their international obligations [under] the ICJ. But they have to talk together to understand the technical [aspects] to define what belongs to whom,” he said.

“On principle, the Thais have to withdraw their troops, but to where? That is the question.”

According to local media reports, Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra has also said that troops will remain at the border area for the time being.

Yingluck is coming under increasing domestic pressure from nationalists, who say her administration has given up land to Cambodia.

Somchai Sawaengkam, a member of the senate committee on foreign affairs, has claimed that Thailand has lost at least one square kilometre of land from the verdict, the Bangkok Post reported yesterday.

It also reported that senators have called for an analysis of the pros and cons of the verdict to decide whether they should comply, with some suggesting a referendum be held.

ICJ verdicts are binding and cannot be appealed.

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