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Cambodia caught between Thai internal politics, official

Cambodia has maintained neutrality in Thailand’s internal politics for not extraditing fugitive former premier Thaksin Shinawatra as a way to avoid causing irritation from Thai “Red Shirt” and “Yellow Shirt” protestors, a government official said.

“When a criminal whom we wanted to arrest stayed in Thailand, did Thailand send the criminal back to us? They didn’t. But here we just exercise our rights to decision making and maintain a neutral role. If we extradite Thaksin back to Thailand, the Red Shirt group would be angry at us and if we don’t, the Yellow Shirt would, so that’s why the government [of Cambodia] must stand on a neutral ground,” Phay Siphan, a spokesman at the Council of Ministers, said as a guest on Hello VOA show Monday.

For further solution with Thailand Phay Siphan said Cambodia’s stance is to maintain peace, good relationship and good cooperation.

Cambodia has recently appointed Thaksin as an economic advisor, a move that Thailand’s Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said does not respect international principle on extradition.

The appointment and Cambodia’s refusal to extradite Thaksin have caused diplomatic tension between the two neighboring countries. Both have lower relations by recalling their respective ambassadors.