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PM rebuffs queries on 1991 peace treaty

PM rebuffs queries on 1991 peace treaty

PRIME Minister Hun Sen has declined to answer parliamentary queries relating to the 1991 Paris Peace Agreements, accusing the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, which filed the request for information, of “serving the interests” of foreign powers.

In a letter to National Assembly President Heng Samrin dated Saturday, Hun Sen said the SRP’s questions, sent to Heng Samrin earlier in the month, were simply veiled accusations that the government had violated the landmark treaty.

As a result, Hun Sen declined to address the issue in the National Assembly, saying it was “not a forum to judge an allegation made by a Member of the National Assembly”.

“If those posing the questions are already alleging the Royal Government of ‘violating the Paris Agreement’, it would be constitutionally sound for them to use their legal rights to bring the case to the courts to decide,” he said.

The Paris Peace Agreements, signed 19 years ago Saturday, brought to an end the country’s decade-long civil war, smoothed the way for the return of thousands of refugees and ushered in democratic elections under United Nations auspices.

Hun Sen said the SRP’s criticisms, contained in a letter signed by four SRP lawmakers on October 15, mirrored those of nationalist elements in
Thailand.

“Such allegations clearly show that the members of the National Assembly from the SRP have been serving the interests of another country rather than their own nation’s,” Hun Sen added.

SRP spokesman Yim Sovann said yesterday that territorial incursions by Thailand and Vietnam both represented violations of the agreement, and accused the government of failing to protect Cambodia’s sovereignty. He rejected Hun Sen’s claim that the party was influenced by foreign interests.

The SRP has recently paid particular attention to alleged Vietnamese encroachments.

The party’s president, Sam Rainsy, is living in self-imposed exile abroad after being sentenced to a total of 12 years in jail over his campaign to expose incursions.

In a statement Friday, the Cambodian Centre for Human Rights said the Paris Agreements offered a solid framework for a democratic Cambodia, and acknowledged that the government had done much to improve the situation. It added, however, that Cambodia “remains far” from realising its objectives.

“The rights and freedoms which the agreements so specifically required are now routinely breached with few, if any, consequences,” CCHR said, listing evictions, indigenous rights and political interference in the courts as main areas of concern.

Son Soubert, who helped negotiate the agreement in Paris as a member of the Khmer People’s National Liberation Front, said the close relationship between Cambodia and Vietnam, including the influx of thousands of illegal Vietnamese immigrants, was a longstanding violation of the agreement.

He added that the government had also failed to demobilise its armed forces by “at least 70 percent”, as stipulated in the agreement’s second annex.

Ultimately, Son Soubert said, the onus for enforcing the agreement lies with foreign donor nations, which have been selective in their support of it.

“The international community is giving assistance to the government within the framework of the agreement,” he said, “but not on the other stipulations ... such as human rights [and] democracy.”

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