Newspaper section: News
Civilians on both sides of the Thai-Cambodian border will continue to suffer from armed conflict so long as Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen is unable to fulfil his political objectives, which are directly linked to Cambodia's stalled management plan for the ancient temple of Preah Vihear.
To gain more credibility for the management plan, the Hun Sen government has resettled a number of civilians on a disputed area near the Hindu temple, which has been listed as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.
The resettlement has soured relations between the two countries, resulting in border skirmishes.
Hun Sen has capitalised on this issue by portraying Cambodia as a smaller country being bullied by a bigger nation. His conduct has made it difficult for the negotiators from both countries to reach a lasting agreement.
In short, there will be no peaceful solution to the conflict until Hun Sen is happy with what has been reached at the negotiating table. As a political strongman, Hun Sen will not hesitate to use his clout.
Unfortunately, civilians on both sides of the border will continue to suffer from this seemingly intractable conflict, which has claimed many lives in recent years.