Friday, 18 February 2011

Hun Sen seeks ceasefire

via CAAI

Thursday, 17 February 2011 19:09 Cheang Sokha

Prime Minister Hun Sen said today that Cambodia would call on Thailand to sign a permanent ceasefire under the auspices of ASEAN when the bloc’s foreign ministers gather in Jakarta for a meeting next week.

Speaking at a rare press conference at the Peace Palace, the premier said Cambodia would make four requests at the meeting, including an additional demand that ASEAN observers be deployed to monitor the ceasefire.

“These are the points that Cambodia [will] propose, and [we are] drafting this proposal before sending it to the chairman of ASEAN,” Hun Sen said.

“This time, it will clearly show who dares to sign and who dares not to sign.”

The meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, follows skirmishes between Cambodia and Thailand in areas close to Preah Vihear temple, which left at least 10 dead and dozens injured on both sides.

Phnom Penh and Bangkok have accused each other of triggering the clashes, just the latest in a sporadic series of fire fights that have occurred on the border since July 2008, when UNESCO inscribed Preah Vihear temple as a World Heritage site.

Hun Sen said the Jakarta meeting would show whether Thailand, which steadfastly opposes multilateral talks to resolve the issue, was truly willing to bring an end to the simmering
border dispute.

“I predict in advance that Thai party will not accept the fourth point,” he said, referring to the proposal for the deployment of ASEAN observers in the disputed area.

“However, I would like to say in advance that if Thailand disagrees to have observers at the site, then Cambodia will welcome forces from ASEAN into Cambodian territory to monitor the Cambodian forces.”

He said the country would welcome military, police or civilian authorities from any of ASEAN’s member states.

On Monday, the United Nations Security Council called on the two sides to “display maximum restraint” and avoid any action that may aggravate the situation, urging them to pursue a resolution at the bilateral or regional level.

The council rejected a Cambodian request for UN peacekeepers to be sent to monitor the ceasefire.

Hun Sen said today that Cambodia was also preparing to write to the International Court of Justice at The Hague, requesting that it explain a 1962 verdict that handed Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia.

Still in custody

The prime minister also dismissed suggestions that two jailed Yellow Shirt activists from Thailand – including high-profile nationalist figure Veera Somkwamkid – might be eligible for royal pardons.

The pair were part of a group of seven Thais arrested in Banteay Meanchey province in December after venturing into a border area to “investigate” the demarcation process.

Though the other five were released on suspended sentences, the case stoked nationalist sentiment in Thailand ahead of this month’s clashes.

The Bangkok Post reported today that the Thailand Patriots Network, an offshoot of the nationalist Yellow Shirt movement, was lobbying the government to request a pardon from King Norodom Sihamoni.

Hun Sen said Veera, who has been handed an eight-year jail term on February 1, cannot be forgiven and must serve his full sentence at Prey Sar prison.

His secretary has also been sentenced to six years prison.

“Don’t come to persuade me to ask for a royal pardon, I will not do that and [the case] will be enforced under the law this time,” Hun Sen said.

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