The Thai-Cambodia military standoff may be in “an imminent state of war” over disputed land near the ancient temple of Preah Vihear, Cambodia warned. It has asked the United Nations Security Council to intervene while Thailand accused Cambodia of eyeing even more of its land, and of using the dispute to win in national elections this weekend.
The dispute escalated this month when the UN’s cultural body, Unesco, approved Cambodia’s application to have the complex named a World Heritage Site. Thailand sent troops to the border on July 15 2008, after anti-government demonstrators attacked Prime Minister Samak Sundaravej’s government for supporting Cambodia’s application to the Unesco. The Thai Foreign Minister has already resigned over the accusations that he has breached the Constitution by doing so.
Cambodia responded with its own deployment.
Meanwhile, PM Samak said Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen was capitalising on nationalist sentiment ahead of Sunday’s polls to bring back to power his Cambodian People’s Party (CPP). Thai ambassador to the U.N. Don Pramudwinai told a Bangkok radio that Cambodia's diplomatic offensive over this temple dispute was ultimately meant to gain more land from Thailand.
Separately, Bangkok media reported Thai DPM Sahas Banditkul to say that at least five UN Security Council members consider intervention to be premature.
On the sidelines of the Asean Ministerial Meeting in Singapore, DPM Sahas discussed the issue with his counterparts from security council permanent members, the USA, Russia and China. Sahas also discussed the issue with Vietnam and Indonesia, who are presently non permanent members of the Council.
Thai media also reported that ASEAN Chairman, Singapore, has already written to Cambodia to urge continuing bilateral efforts, rather than seeking regional or UN intercession.
Tensions between the two neighbors have boiled over in the past. In 2003, the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh was burnt after protests over statements concerning the origins of Angkor Wat. Currently, the Cambodian police are holding vigil over the Thai embassy.
The Nation, 24 July 2008, UN urges patience, http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2008/07/24/headlines/headlines_30078829....
Bangkok Post, 24 July 2008, Asean stays out of border row
Today, Thursday July 24 2008, War imminent, UN warned , http //www.todayonline.com/articles/266740.asp
Reuters 23 Jul 08, Thais brace for border clashes with Cambodia