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Ruling on Preah Vihear temple due next month: government

Cambodian police and military police guard the temple of Preah Vihear in 2011
Cambodian police and military police guard the temple of Preah Vihear in 2011. The International Court of Justice says its will deliver its ruling on the Thai-Cambodian dispute over the temple on November 11. HENG CHIVOAN

Ruling on Preah Vihear temple due next month: government

The International Court of Justice informed foreign ministers this week it will read its ruling on the heated Preah Vihear territorial row between Cambodia and Thailand next month.

Officials at the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Thai embassy in the Hague – where the ICJ is located – confirmed yesterday that the ICJ registrar’s office notified them the ruling will come on November 11.

“We expect the court will provide justice,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong said. “We need only justice.”

The date was set days after Thai Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul told the Bangkok Post the ICJ would not rule on the case until February.

Officials at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs could not be reached yesterday.

Tensions over which country owns a 4.6-square-kilometre area surrounding the Preah Vihear temple erupted in 2008 after UNESCO listed the 11th-century Hindu ruin as a World Heritage Site.

Violence over the disputed territory left at least 18 dead and thousands displaced along the border in 2011, the same year Cambodia asked the ICJ to reinterpret a 1962 ruling on the issue.

Kuong doubts the upcoming ICJ decision will strain diplomacy between the countries, whichever way it rules.

“Whatever the court rules, it won’t affect the normal relations between Cambodia and Thailand,” Kuong said.

Ppolitical analyst Kem Ley, however, does not share Kuong’s optimism.

The countries enjoy friendly relations, as they have acknowledged that trade and a consistent movement of their citizens across the border makes them co-dependent, Ley said. However, the nationalistic implications of the site, which go back centuries, could easily reignite border clashes, he added.

“I think that it’s not [one] government against the [other] government right now, it’s nationalism,” Ley said. “I don’t know what will happen, but I know conflict will come.”

Prime Minister Hun Sen has said the two countries should meet to discuss the implementation of the ruling after the court announces it, Kuong said, but no date has been set.

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