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Group Laments Weakened 1991 Accords

On the anniversary of the 1991 Paris Peace Accords, which brought an end to decades of civil strife in Cambodia, a US group said it regretted the government had not worked to fulfill the promises of the peace agreement.

Nineteen countries, including Cambodia, Britain, France, Laos, Thailand, the US and Vietnam, signed the Peace Accords Oct. 23, 1991, putting an end to hostilities between warring factions and paving the way for a constitution and elections.

The anniversary of the accords ceased being a Cambodian public holiday in 2004.

Cambodia has ignored the tenets of the accords, including the respect of human rights and principles of democracy, said Yap Kim Tung, president of Cambodian Americans for Human Rights and Democracy.

Yap Kim Tung said the three branches of government, legislative, executive and judicial, are controlled by a single individual, while the freedoms of expression and press are sensitive points for the ruling government.

The government has failed to stanch pervasive land grabs nationwide, driving farmers into deeper poverty, often at the hands of high-ranking officials, he said.

Yap Kim Tung also said the endorsement in 2005 of a Cambodian-Vietnamese treaty from 1985 was contrary to the spirit of the 1991 accords.

Ir Channa, general secretary of the Cambodia Watchdog Council, based in Norway, told VOA Khmer the 2005 endorsement cost the loss of thousands of hectares of Cambodian land, and 30,000 square kilometers of maritime territory.

The treaty should be annulled, according to the principles of the 1991 accords, he said.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said the government was implementing full respect for human rights and democracy, and had strived to have a multi-party democracy with the inclusion of civil society.

Meanwhile, the government was working diplomatically to solve disputed border issues with neighboring countries, he said.

However, critics say it was the failure of the government to solve border issues which has led to a military build-up with Thailand on the northern border, which last week devolved into a series of gun battles, killing at least one Thai and three Cambodian soldiers.