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Hun Sen To Explain Vietnam Border Agreement To Lawmakers

Chea Sim, center, president of the ruling Cambodian People's Party, Heng Samring, rear left, the party honorary president, Hun Sen, foreground, the party's vice president and the prime minister of the Cambodian government, file photo.
PHNOM PENH, WASHINGTON DC - Prime Minister Hun Sen says he will accept an invitation from the National Assembly to appear before lawmakers and explain a border agreement between Cambodia and Vietnam.

The Assembly will hold a session on Thursday to discuss the agreement, which opposition officials say ceded Cambodian land to Vietnam.

Ruling party lawmaker Cheam Yiep said Hun Sen will take about four hours in the session to detail the agreements.

Yim Sovann, a spokesman for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party, said he doubted his lawmakers would be permitted to ask questions in the session. “Villagers need the facts, so we have the right to ask,” he said.

Sean Pengse, a France-based expert on the border’s history, said he would want the premier to explain the government’s failure to cancel illegal treaties counter to the Paris Peace Accords; the loss of maritime borders and agreements allowing Vietnamese to easily immigrate to Cambodia.

Cambodia’s border agreements are politically volatile, with some Cambodians angry at what they say is a loss of land to their neighbors.

At least four border treaties were established during Vietnam’s occupation of Cambodia from 1979 to 1989, which were never nullified. A supplementary agreement was signed with Vietnam in 2005, sparking protests and arrests.

Sean Pengse, a former minister of energy under the Lon Nol government, said Cambodia lost some 30,000 square kilometers of maritime territory in 1982, including the island of Koh Krachak Ses. A 1983 treaty allows Vietnamese citizens to live freely in Cambodia, he said.

Hun Sen and other officials have denied allegations that they ceded Cambodian territory to Laos, Thailand or Vietnam. Hun Sen announced last week he would address these concerns at Thursday’s National Assembly meeting. “Don’t say Hun Sen is afraid,” he said. “I will say everything.”

Lao Monghay, an independent political analyst, said Hun Sen’s appearance at the National Assembly will not likely include the type of questioning expected of a system of checks and balances, but will more likely be a one-way speech.