Country Report Cambodia February 2010

The political scene: Thailand issues an ultimatum as relations deteriorate

Relations between Cambodia and Thailand have deteriorated further following the appointment of a former Thai prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, as an economic adviser to the Cambodian government. On January 11th Thailand's foreign minister, Kasit Piromya, said that his country would not normalise diplomatic relations with Cambodia unless Hun Sen distanced himself from Thaksin, who remains a controversial figure in Thailand. Hun Sen responded by saying that there was no need to accede to Kasit's demand because the Thai government's days were numbered. Hun Sen's remarks came ahead of a protest in the Thai capital, Bangkok, by supporters of the pro-Thaksin opposition, which is calling for parliament to be dissolved and a general election to be held.

Thaksin's appointment as an adviser in late October led to a deterioration in relations between Cambodia and Thailand, with each country expelling the other's ambassador, and came amid a territorial dispute over the Preah Vihear temple, which is situated on the Cambodian-Thai border. Thaksin made a third visit to Cambodia on January 20th-21st, having dinner with Hun Sen, before flying on to another (unidentified) country in Asia. Cambodian and Thai troops briefly exchanged gunfire across the border on January 24th in the latest dispute over the Preah Vihear temple, but there were no reports of casualties.

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