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Opposition Leader Says Amended Constitution Could Help Border

Var Kimhong, head of Cambodia’s border committee, hold a map of Dak Ta which is an area near Cambodian-Vietnamese border in a press conference about official map used for border post at the Council of Ministers on July 2nd, 2015. (Neou Vannarin/VOA Khmer)

Opposition leader Sam Rainsy says the article of the constitution that demarcates Cambodia’s borders could be amended, for use of an older, more accurate map.

Article 2 of the constitution mandates the use of a French-made map from a survey from 1933 to 1953, when Cambodia was part of Indochina. But there is an older map, made in 1914, that would be better, Sam Rainsy, head of the Cambodia National Rescue Party, told reporters Monday.

Cambodia’s borders are, in places, unclear. And the opposition is demanding the government end alleged encroachment near the Vietnamese border, pressing on a delicate political and diplomatic matter for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s administration.

The border question has become increasingly problematic, with the construction of a Vietnamese military post in a disputed border region near Kandal province, and ponds dug by Vietnam in similar areas in Ratanakkiri province.

“We don’t necessarily need to tie ourselves to [a map] made from 1933,” Sam Rainsy said Monday. “We will take all the previous maps since the French came to rule Cambodia, Anam country, and Kampuchea Krom, since 1863.”

An amended Article 2, using the older map, could “make things clear,” he said.

However, speaking at a graduation ceremony at the National Education Institute last week, Hun Sen said the map used with Vietnam was internationally recognized. The same map is not used in dealing with Thailand.

CPP lawmaker Chheang Vun said no request has been made for an amendment, but he said having just one map to have border discussions with Cambodia’s neighbors would be helpful. “As long as we have a map that comes from national unity, we can negotiate with them,” he said.