Bun Rany deploys personal bodyguards to protect the city's Sereipheap Market from demolition and development.
Vendors of Sereipheap Market protest on Monday.
VENDORS at Phnom Penh's Sereipheap Market say they have received a promise from the wife of Prime Minister Hun Sen that the market will not be closed.
Vendors protested outside the prime minister's house after the market's owner sent a letter ordering them to vacate their stalls by Wednesday or face potentially violent consequences.
Reun Koun Thy, one of the vendors, said that Bun Rany had spoken directly to them. The vendors had spent the night sleeping outside Hun Sen's house in the hope that he would take an interest in their case.
"She said she would not allow the market owner to close the market tomorrow, and she would allow her bodyguards to protect the market until tomorrow," Reun Koun Thy said Tuesday.
Bun Rany advised the vendors to find a lawyer and sue the owner, Lim Kimpheng, in the Municipal Court for breach of contract, vendors said.
Another vendor, Srey Chea, said vendors had a 25-year lease that the owner wanted to break after just 13 years.
"We want to ask the prime minister to help us enforce our right to have a business until the end of the contract because the prime minister used to say that no markets should be closed down," she said.
Keo Sakol, the chief of Veal Vong commune, in which the market stands, said Lim Kimpheng wanted to build housing on the site.
"The owner should pay compensation to the vendors and not allow them to move on empty-handed," she said.
Lim Kimpheng could not be reached for comment, but vendors said that he had started to demolish shops in mid-January, whenthe market had 300 shops.
Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Map Sarin was also unavailable for comment.