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CPP Marks Anniversary of ‘United Front’

National Assembly President Heng Samrin on Wednesday praised Cambodian soldiers deployed to the Thai border, as he marked the 31st anniversary of the formation of a front that helped oust the Khmer Rouge and led to the creation of today’s ruling party.

Speaking at the Chaktomuk Theater in Phnom Penh, Heng Samrin said soldiers were defending more than just temples on the Thai border, and he thanked the government officials, monks and laymen who had made donations to keep the soldiers entrenched in their positions.

Cambodia and Thailand have had troops deployed in a border dispute since July 2008, where tense moments since have been centered around the temples of Preah Vihear, Ta Mon and Ta Krabey.

The two sides are also engaged in a deepening diplomatic row over the hiring of ousted Thai premier Thaksin Shinawtra as an economic adviser to Hun Sen.

Heng Samrin on Wednesday cautioned “peaceful negotiation based on the basic constitution and law, as well as the spirit of friendship and close cooperation.”

The Kampuchea United Front for National Salvation was formed Dec. 2, 1978, and was comprised of Cambodian soldiers loyal to Heng Samrin and others, including the would-be prime minister, Hun Sen. The group had the support of the Vietnamese government, which ousted the Khmer Rouge from power but carried out a decade-long occupation.

Members of the front became senior leaders of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party after they were installed by the Vietnamese administration. The group changed its name last year, to the Solidarity Fronts of Cambodian Development, which is presided over by Heng Samrin and remains under the CPP.