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Lakeside residents rebuffed

Lakeside residents rebuffed

We will wait ... [but] we will continue to protest at other institutions if a response is not given.

More than 200 Boeung Kak residents gathered outside City Hall yesterday to await the municipality’s ruling to their alternative development plan, but were rebuffed by local authorities they claim had promised a ruling this week.

Village representatives released an alternative development plan to the controversial development project nearly one month ago, in which 15 hectares were asked to be set aside for families threatened with eviction. The proposal was submitted two weeks ago to Keut Che, deputy chief of City Hall cabinet, who forwarded the request to Phnom Penh Governor Kep Chuktema.

Seven Boeung Kak representatives were allowed to enter City Hall yesterday, hoping to get a resolution to the development conflict. They said Ly Saveth, City Hall’s administration chief, told them that Kep Chuktema had not made a decision on their request and was busy in Battambang province.

“This is just the same excuse made by City Hall authorities,” said Tep Vanny, one of the representatives for lakeside residents.

Another representative, Ly Mom, said Ly Saveth “repeatedly told us” that an official response would be given by the municipality later this week.

“We will wait … [but] we will continue to protest at other institutions if a response is not given,” said Ly Mom.

Daun Penh district Deputy Governor Sok Penhvuth called on villagers to stop gathering en masse, and further told them to not be concerned about their pending evictions.

“We will not force the villagers to leave their homes,” he said. “The solution cannot be done in one day … so please believe in the authority’s solution”.

Am Sam Ath, a senior investigator with rights group Licadho, said yesterday that he believed municipal officials were making excuses in lieu of finding a timely solution.

“I think the excuse that they are busy on their duties is not proper and it is not a solution,” he said.

Nearly two weeks ago, the World Bank said that a land titling programme it funded in Cambodia had failed thousands of people facing evictions, including those living in the vicinity of Boeung Kak lake. Rights groups estimate that roughly 4,000 families will be affected by the pending commercial and housing development.

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