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CPP official suspends CNRP-funded irrigation project

A ruling party district governor has suspended the construction of an opposition party-funded irrigation project in Kampong Cham, citing lack of permission and “technical issues”.

But the Cambodian National Rescue Party is crying foul, saying the temporary halt in the project is politically driven.

The reservoir in question is located in Srok commune, which was led by Sam Rainsy Party commune chief Seang Chet until his April jailing for his alleged role in the Kem Sokha bribery case.

Kampong Seam District Governor Srey Kim Chhay maintained construction was paused because the authorities did not file a letter seeking permission before beginning construction.

Srok commune deputy chief Oul Pov admitted he did not seek prior permission, but said he submitted a letter after district authorities inspected the site.

Department of Water Resources and Meteorology director Oum Vibol yesterday said he welcomed the generosity of the CNRP and denied it was a political ploy. “It is just a temporary pause in construction because they began building it without our consent,” he said. “They need to follow procedure . . . there is no political reason.”

While Vibol said the area was not at risk of water shortage, Korn Sok, village chief of Lpeak, disagreed. “If we don’t build this reservoir we will not have enough water,” he said. “I think how the reservoir was being built looks just fine . . . I don’t care [what] parties build it.”

Sok said 300 people would benefit from the project, adding that in 2003 he requested CPP lawmakers to build a canal and water reservoir, but only the canal had been constructed.

CNRP spokesman Son Chhay said stopping the $3,500 irrigation system was “absolutely politically motivated”. “It’s bad behaviour by the local CPP . . . to discredit the efforts of the commune chief and make it look like the elected commune council has not done anything for the people,” he said.

The news comes a day after Prime Minister Hun Sen touted the government’s school-building efforts as a CPP service and urged students to vote for his party.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY ERIN HANDLEY

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