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Cabinet chief pushes for quick resolution of R’kiri market dispute

THE chief of Prime Minister Hun Sen’s cabinet has intervened in an attempt to resolve a dispute between a real estate company and vendors from a market in Ratanakkiri province who last week threatened to disrupt a ceremony the premier is scheduled to attend if the dispute has not been dealt with.

Ho Sothy on Thursday sent a letter to Ratanakkiri provincial Govenor Pav Ham Phan urging him to help the vendors arrive at a resolution with the Heng Dara Company, an investor in the market that vendors say has overcharged on rent after renovations that were completed last year.

I will not allow the vendors to hold a protest. I will find a resolution....

More than 1,000 vendors staged a protest at Banlung Market in December to demand lower rents. Last week, about 400 vendors who had been planning to stage a protest at Hun Sen’s Takhmao home said they had decided instead to wait for a road inauguration ceremony in O’Yadav district over which Hun Sen is expected to preside.
Pav Ham Phan told Ho Sothy in a response sent on Sunday that he intended to intervene.

“I will not allow vendors to hold a protest,” he said in the letter. “I will find a resolution to this dispute as soon as possible.”

But Tang Sophal, a vendor representative, said Sunday that the dispute will not be resolved until Heng Dara stops overcharging, and added that for some vendors the annual rent has increased by up to US$200.

She also said the vendors had not entirely ruled out the idea of staging a protest in Takhmao.

She added, though, that she welcomed the idea of Pav Ham Phan intervening in the dispute.

Heng Dara Company representatives could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

In an interview following the December protest, Sa Leang, a company representative, argued that vendors had been notified of the company’s pricing policies when they rented shops at the market, and that those policies had not changed.

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