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Officials probe border land dispute

Khy Sovuthy / Khmer Times Share:
Farmers were upset with Thai authorities. Koh Santepheap

Cambodian and Thai joint authorities on Monday reviewed a disputed area where the Thais removed cassava trees of two Cambodian farmers in Banteay Meanchey province’s Svay Chek district last week.

The Cambodian side was represented by Major General Chhun Mao, deputy commander of the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces’ Region 5 in charge of the area, Brigadier General Neth Sam Ath, deputy director of RCAF Cambodia-Thailand Border Relations, Border Military Unit 503, Border Police Unit 911 and district officials.

They met the Thai joint authority near the disputed land in Svay Chek district’s Svay Chek commune, said Brigadier General Tim Sareth, acting director of RCAF Cambodia-Thailand Border Relations.

“The Cambodian side and the Thai side agreed to allow cassava trees of Cambodian farmers to remain until they can be harvested,” Brig Gen Sareth said.

“We also told our farmers to stop growing cassava on the white zone because that area is not demarcated yet.”

Brig Gen Sareth said Thai joint authorities came to remove cassava trees of two farmers on February 16 without informing or requesting the Cambodian joint authority, prompting Cambodian farmers to protest to the Thai joint authorities.

Thai authorities told local farmers to remove their cassava trees. Koh Santepheap

“This is the first time this has happened,” Brig Gen Sareth said. “Now we have an agreement with each other.”

Brig Gen Sam Ath said the Cambodian joint authority told the Thai joint authority that next time, if there were any problems, they had to be solved together.

“We told the Thais that if they had a problem, we can solve it peacefully to avoid the problem getting bigger.”

He noted that in the meeting, the Thai side demanded that Cambodian farmers remove cassava trees in an area of 105 metres by 550 metres, but on Saturday the Thai side just asked the farmers to remove the trees in 50 metres by 550 metres.

“This case is well dealt with because our side asked the Thai side for a delay until our farmers can harvest their cassava,” Brig Gen Sam Ath said.

Colonel So Channary, chief of Border Police Unit 911, could not be reached for comment.

Suon Bovor, Banteay Meanchey provincial governor, could not be reached for comment. Um Reatrey, deputy provincial governor, declined to comment.

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