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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Embattled vendors go back to PM

Embattled vendors go back to PM

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Tonloab market protesters gather outside Prime Minister Hun Sen's house on Thursday to highlight their plight.

Takeo vendors say government officials failed to make good on vows to resolve ongoing dispute.

VENDORS from Tonloab market in Takeo province returned to Prime Minister Hun Sen's home in Takhmao, Kandal province, Thursday to protest both the actions of the market owners as well as those of government officials, who they said have failed to follow through on reassurances that they would resolve an ongoing dispute.

About 100 of the market's 400 vendors were expected to make the trip, down somewhat from the 130 who walked 30 kilometres to Phnom Penh on August 1 to protest at the premier's house. That protest prompted assurances from officials that the government would broker a solution.

But only 40 ended up making the trip Thursday, and Nguon Srei Mao, a vendor, said he was discouraged by the sparse attendance.

"I don't know if the PM will solve the problem, because not all of us came," she said.

The vendors have claimed that the owners of the market, located in Takeo's Kirivong district, told them to leave their stalls temporarily for redevelopment purposes and then sold them to other vendors at higher prices. Srey Heng, another vendor, said Thursday that she believed the vendors' demands were perfectly reasonable.

"We just want the prime minister to grant us the right to sell at our old spots," she said.

Tek Songlim, the governor of Kirivong district, said officials were preparing new stalls for the vendors.

"We are constructing a new place for them, and it will be finished in about five days," he said. "We can't allow them to sell from their old stalls because they have been sold."

Lim Leang Se, deputy chief of Hun Sen's Cabinet, could not be reached for comment Thursday.

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