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Army, villagers cut land deal

A hotly debated land dispute between villagers and the military in Banteay Meanchey province was solved – for many villagers at least – with a win-win strategy on Friday, according to the provincial governor.

In negotiations, village and provincial officials divided up 80 hectares of land in Preah Netr Preah district between the two sides.

Soldiers began using the land in 2008, saying it belonged to the military, but villagers have documentation proving they own a chunk of it, district police chief Keo Bunyeurn said.

“The Royal Cambodian Armed Forces agreed to give that land to people who live and cultivate land in the 24-hectare area, and the families agreed,” said Bunyeurn, before noting that many were unhappy with the arrangement.

“[Some] families claimed in the land management office in Preah Netr Preah that they have certificates proving their ownership of 26 hectares [not 24].”

Commune chief Chhuin Rorn yesterday said that villagers claiming land must bring their land certificates to the district police office as proof. Provincial Governor Kosum Sareun agreed that this would be an acceptable method of dividing the land.

“If calculations find that they do not own 26 hectares, the civilians will suggest that part goes to the army for training,” Rorn said. “If we find out the land is [the villagers’] . . . it will be used for villagers’ cultivation.”

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