Thursday, 17 September 2009

PAD barred from disputed border area

Published: 17/09/2009

Protesters of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) will not be allowed inside the disputed 4.6-square-kilometre area around the Preah Vihear temple since this could affect relations with Cambodia, Lt-Gen Wibulsak Neepan said on Thursday.

The Second Army commander said this in response to the PAD's announced plan to converge on Phra Viharn National Park in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district and demand that Cambodian troops and villagers be pushed out of the disputed area.

Veera Somkwamkid, chairman of the Civil Rights and Liberty Group, which is affiliated to the PAD, has said protesters from various provinces would gather in Kantharalak district before moving to the border area on Saturday.

Pol Lt-Gen Krisda Pankhongchuen, head Region 3 Provincial Police, said about 200 police had been mobilised from Si Sa Ket and nearby provinces to support soldiers in preventing the protesters from entering the disputed area.

Chavanont Intarakomalsut, secretary to Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, said that during his inspection trip to the border area near the Preah Vihear temple on Sept 13 Mr Kasit and high-level officials of Cambodia agreed to solve the dispute through negotiations.

Mr Chavanont said the Thai-Cambodian Joint Border Committee (JBC) has surveyed the disputed area for border demarcation. The results of the past three meetings of the JBC wers expected to be reported to parliament next month. The problem had existed for a long time and more time was needed to solve it through negotiations, he said.

Mr Chavanont said the protesters should be careful about going inside Phra Viharn National Park because there might still be some uncleared land mines in the area and they were very dangerous.

Somchai Phetprasert, a Puea Thai MP for Nakhon Ratchasima and chairman of the House committee on military affairs, urged the government, foreign minister and armed forces commanders to tell Cambodia that the Thai people have the right to peaceful assembly under the constitution.

At the same time, the army should take measures to prevent the protesters from getting near the disputed area since they might appear provocative to Cambodian troops

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