Thai protesters urge government to solve border dispute with Cambodia

BANGKOK: Activists on Saturday continued to urge Thailand's government to resolve a dispute over an ancient temple which sits on the border with Cambodia, MCOT online news reported.

The 'Yellow Shirt' activists from the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), who have been rallying near Thailand's Government House for the fifth day, are demanding the government to scrap the existing memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed between both countries in 2000 to settle the disputed border areas.

The activists said they will not disperse unless Thailand withdraws from the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, revoke three memorandums of understanding signed by the Thai-Cambodian Joint Boundary Commission (JBC), and eject Cambodian soldiers and villagers in border areas the group claims belong to Thailand.

Tensions between both countries increased after a Cambodian national flag was flying above the entrance of the Kaew Sikha Khiri Sawara temple near Preah Vihear temple, which is located in the disputed border area.

PAD is also calling for the release of two out of seven Thais who were arrested by Cambodian soldiers on charges of violating Cambodian territory on December 29 and are due to appear for a court trial on Tuesday. Party spokesman Panthep Puapongphan said they all were apprehended in Thai territory.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva, now attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, said in a telephone interview that the border problem with Cambodia must be carried out by peaceful manner, especially as both countries are members of ASEAN: the Association of Southeast Asian Nations: and his government must uphold the country's benefits as most important. 

Cambodia and Thailand have been involved in the border dispute since Cambodia's Preah Vihear temple was enlisted as World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008. Thailand claims ownership of 1.8 square miles (4.6 sq km) of scrub next to the temple. Periodic clashes between Cambodian and Thai soldiers have resulted in the deaths of troops on both sides.


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