National Assembly Approves Cambodia-Vietnam Border Treaties

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The National Assembly during a morning session on November 4, 2019, in a photo posted to the assembly’s Facebook page.
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The National Assembly on Monday ratified two treaties demarcating the border between Cambodia and Vietnam.

Prime Minister Hun Sen and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed the two treaties on October 5, advancing the two countries’ progress on border demarcations to 84 percent of their 1,270-km shared border. The treaties supplemented earlier 1985 and 2005 agreements.

On Monday, all 110 lawmakers present voted in favor of the treaties’ approval, in spite of earlier criticism from a minor party that the details of the treaties should first be made public and that a single-party parliament should not be making decisions on the country’s territorial extent.

The ruling CPP won all 125 seats in the National Assembly in last year’s election after the Supreme Court dissolved its main opposition rival, the CNRP, eight months prior.

Defense Minister Tea Banh said during the National Assembly session that the treaties protected Cambodian farmers’ land and would enhance peace and cooperation between the neighboring countries.

He added that the treaties would be ratified once the two countries exchanged legal documents and three versions — in French, Vietnamese and Khmer — were produced.

“In the case of differing interpretations, the French version shall be the base,” he said. “The Supplementary Treaties of 2019 are historic legal documents that are important in acknowledging the achievements the two countries have made.”

Grassroots Democratic Party spokesman Leok Sothea, however, told VOD he was disappointed by the treaties’ ratification, saying it could increase political tensions at a time when temperatures were already running high.

The party has been vocal about the border treaties since they were signed in October, saying that without the treaties’ content being publicly disclosed, it was unclear whether Cambodia had ceded territory.

“The government and the nation is led by only one party, and this is our concern: that the ratification now could lead to a greater crisis and more accusations,” Sothea said.

Dozens of former CNRP members have been arrested in the past few months as the party’s acting president, Sam Rainsy, has vowed to attempt to return to the country on November 9. The government has called the promised homecoming a coup attempt, and has deployed troops in anticipation.

The Cambodia-Vietnam border has been a contentious issue for many Cambodians in the past, with the CNRP regularly stoking fears that the country was losing territory to its neighbor.

Sothea said the Grassroots Democratic Party would submit a petition to the Senate and King Norodom Sihamoni in an attempt to delay ratification.

Former CNRP lawmaker Um Sam An went a step further in his criticism, calling the National Assembly’s ratification “illegal” because the National Assembly members had been selected in a “fake” election without the main opposition party in contention.

“Today’s passage by the National Assembly is not official,” Sam An said.

The treaties finalize the positions of 314 markers demarcating 84 percent of the border. The remaining markers still in dispute will be agreed upon after French specialists develop a detailed map at 1:50,000 scale by converting the current 1:100,000-scale map.

(Translated by Kang Sothear and edited from the original article on VOD Khmer)

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