Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Laos-Cambodia border closed over tensions

Laos-Cambodia border closed over tensions

A moto drives across the Laos-Cambodia border in Stung Treng province. Lao authorities temporarily shut the border crossing due to recent tensions between the two countries.
A moto drives across the Laos-Cambodia border in Stung Treng province. Lao authorities temporarily shut the border crossing due to recent tensions between the two countries. Hong Menea

Laos-Cambodia border closed over tensions

In the latest flare up in tensions between the two countries, Lao authorities temporarily shut a border crossing with Cambodia and dispatched more troops to an undemarcated area on the northern border after Cambodian authorities began renovating an old French border outpost.

According to local officials, Laos shut the Voen Kham border crossing in Stung Treng province’s O’Svay commune on Sunday and briefly again yesterday until authorities from Thala Barivat district scrambled to find a resolution.

O’Svay commune police chief Ham Sovorn said Laos closed the checkpoint after border police tried to upgrade a colonial-era border outpost located in an un-demarcated “white zone” next to the Mekong River in the commune’s Deum Lvea area. Armed Lao troops then moved into the white zone and demanded Cambodian authorities halt the construction, which they did.

Sovorn said relations with their counterparts across the border had been tense since the beginning of March, as the Lao military continued construction of an outpost in a similar white zone bordering Samaki commune. Work on that Lao outpost provoked a diplomatic protest by provincial authorities last April but Sovorn said work had progressed nonetheless.

“We do not allow them to build their border post in Dong Kralor Chas [the area of the planned Lao outpost], but they still want to build it without informing us, and already made a well,” he said. “But when we built our post along the river, they stopped us and sent three trucks full of forces . . . They were all equipped with guns and they have prepared for any irregular situation . . . They are ready to attack us.”

Reached yesterday, Thala Barivat district police chief Sem Sitha said Laos had stationed more troops near O’Svay commune. He said the border had been opened and closed a few times since the stand-off began.

“But when leaders had talked with them, they have reopened it,” he added. Thala Barivat District Governor Thorng Srean said the border was now open and the situation was calm, but declined to give further details calling it a “national affair”.

A border policeman, who requested anonymity, said border police planned to renovate the colonial checkpoint as a response to Laos’s attempts to build a military outpost.

“The demarcation [in that area] has not been agreed on by both governments but the Laotians try to build [their base] . . . Therefore we want to renovate the old post in the Deum Lvea location, but they brought their forces in and shut the border,” he said.

The incident follows another flare-up in February in Stung Treng’s Siem Pang district, where some 400 Lao troops entered a white zone to stop Cambodian military engineers from building a road on what they maintained was the Kingdom’s territory.

Provincial authorities were unreachable yesterday. Defence Ministry spokesman Chhum Socheat, meanwhile, said he was “busy” before hanging up.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Schools drawn into Manet degree row

    Prime Minister Hun Sen stepped into the Hun Manet-Sam Rainsy war of words over the validity of Manet’s degree from the US Military Academy at West Point, set off by Rainsy’s claims that Manet had received a “second-class degree” or “honorary degree”. Hun

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • NagaWorld protest part of ‘conspiracy’

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Court and police held a joint-press conference on January 4 to clarify details concerning the arrest of nine former employees of the integrated resort NagaWorld and the charges brought against them, saying that the authorities had clear grounds for taking legal action.