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Demos in support of Hun Sen

A BOUT 500 farmers demonstrated on front of the National Assembly in support of

Hun Sen's Development Center in Kandal province, after it was criticized by a

newspaper as "an agricultural disaster."

Shouting and waving banners

reading: "We condemn untrue newspaper reports! We support Samdech Hun Sen's

project," the demonstrators wound their way through Phnom Penh on Feb 27.

They stopped at the National Assembly and Khmer Journalists Association,

where they condemned the Serey Pheap Thmey News (New Liberty News) before ending

their march cheering in front of Hun Sen's house.

Most of the protesters

came from Krang Yov commune, Sang district, Kandal, where part of the

development is located.

Some local newspapers have accused the

demonstrators of being CPP supporters and of receiving the party's help to pay

for transportation and food for the rally.

But one of the

demonstration's leaders, who declined to be named, said the villagers determined

to came to Phnom Penh by themselves. They asked district and provincial

authorities to provide transport because they had none. "I am not in favor Hun

Sen, but what he has done is a benefit to the people," said Chum Mi, a villager

from Krang Yov.

In its Feb 19 edition, New Liberty News reported people

would starve and hundreds tonnes of rice would be lost because of "destructive

elements" in the plan.

The newspaper also said people were angry because

they were being forced to work hard to build dikes and channels for the project.

It said the "stupid" plan would destroy hundreds of hectares of rice fields and

cause environmental damage.

The report had no expert comment supporting

the allegations.

The project includes two power stations; a 13-kilometer

road; two schools; a three-room clinic and a credit program to help farmers buy

200 oxen, 150 tonnes of fertilizer and 50 tonnes of seeds.

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