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Thai court blocks support for Cambodia temple bid

Administrative Court's decision comes after a legal request by the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy. -Reuters

Sat, Jun 28, 2008

BANGKOK - A TOP Thai court imposed an injunction on Saturday against Bangkok's support for a bid by Cambodia to register a disputed 900-year-old Hindu temple on their border as a World Heritage Site.

The Administrative Court's decision came after a legal request by the anti-government People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), which has whipped up a nationalist frenzy over the Preah Vihear temple, which many Thais believe belongs to Thailand.

The International Court of Justice ruled in 1962 that the ruins were part of Cambodia, a decision that has rankled with most Thais ever since. Cambodia's move this year to have Preah Vihear accorded World Heritage status has reopened the wound.

The PAD, whose supporters have been camped outside Government House for more than a week, says Bangkok is backing Phnom Penh's bid in return for business concessions in Cambodia for ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra.

Mr Thaksin and both the Thai and Cambodian governments deny the claims by the PAD, a motley collection of businessmen, academics and royalists united in their hatred for the telecoms billionaire ousted in a 2006 coup.

It is not known how the injunction will affect the heritage push by Cambodia, which has warned of consequences for its relations with its larger neighbour. The Court said the temporary injunction would be in place until it had come to a full decision.

Fears of a major diplomatic reaction, or worse, over the temple are not overblown, especially since Cambodian politicians are in campaign mode for a July 27 general election.

In 2003, a nationalist mob torched the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh after a newspaper erroneously reported comments from a Thai soap opera star saying the famed Angkor Wat temples belonged to Thailand. -- REUTERS

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