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[Thai] Army fears [PAD] rally will cause unrest

Written By vibykhmer on Sunday, September 13, 2009 | 11:00 PM

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, third from left in cap, yesterday visits Thai troops stationed in the disputed area on the Cambodian border near Preah Vihear temple. SANOH WORARAK

PAD protesters denied access to Preah Vihear

14/09/2009
THANIDA TANSUBHAPOL
Bangkok Post


SI SA KET : The army is worried a People's Alliance for Democracy rally being planned near the Preah Vihear temple could spark further border tensions with Cambodia.

An army officer, who asked not to be named, yesterday said the army would stop PAD protesters from entering Phra Viharn National Park in Si Sa Ket's Kantharalak district on Saturday.

The officer said Cambodia could decide to reinforce its troops and fan unrest if the protesters managed to gain access to the 4.6-square-kilometre area claimed by the two countries.

The PAD claims Thailand is losing sovereignty in the area as the government had ignored more structures being built by Phnom Penh.

It also accuses the government of planning to withdraw troops from the unsettled territory, a decision which could give Cambodia more control over the area.

Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, in his weekly television and radio address, yesterday tried to ease the protesters' concerns, saying any new buildings in the area would be unacceptable to Thailand.

"Let me assure all of you that the government will do anything it can to protect the national interest and sovereignty," Mr Abhisit said.

"But what we do not want to see happen is a misunderstanding which could lead to fighting, clashes or loss of lives."

Foreign Minister Kasit Piromya, who yesterday visited the border, said Thai troops had no plans to leave the disputed zone.

The minister warned that emotional rallies could be a setback to relations with Cambodia.

Mr Kasit held talks with Cambodian deputy supreme commander Chea Tara and the two agreed not to use force to settle their differences over the sovereignty issue.

Cambodia last month announced it had halved its troop presence near Preah Vihear. But an army source said the reduction affected support units only. All main forces were stationed in the disputed area and nearby.

In July last year, three Thai protesters in the disputed area were arrested by Cambodian soldiers while demonstrating against a Cambodian plan to list Preah Vihear as a World Heritage site under the United Nations Scientific, Educational and Cultural Organisations.

The Thai News Agency quoted army spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd as saying protesters on Saturday should "think carefully in order to avoid what happened last year".

PAD members in several northeastern provinces began their campaign yesterday in Khon Kaen by paying respect to the statue of former prime minister Sarit Thanarat. They issued a statement stressing their determination to keep the disputed area near the 11th century temple part of Thailand.

The World Court has ruled the temple belongs to Cambodia. The ruling in 1962 was made when Sarit was the Thai government leader.

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