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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pursat vendors say they are latest victims of clean city vision

Pursat vendors say they are latest victims of clean city vision

Town authorities are accused of cracking down on street sellers, who have been blamed for slowing development in the provincial capital

VENDORS who pedal their goods outside Pursat market say many of the more than 200  sellers have been threatened and intimidated by local police who told them to leave the area by the end of the week.

Eang Chariya was selling fish outside the market last week when the police told her she must pack up and leave the street by Friday.

"They did not give us a reason. They just told us to move because the governor needs the area," she said, adding that they wanted her and other vendors to relocate to a private market across the street.

Governor Chhay Sareth did not want to comment on the case, but asked the Post - before hanging up the phone - "Why do journalists write about this? Do they not want to see the government's development [plans]?"

Pursat police chief Lok Sary said he had not heard about the incident, suggesting instead that private security workers were responsible.

"Maybe it was not the police officers who came, but market security guards," he said, adding that he could not confirm the allegations.

Another vendor, Chheang Ly, said she had been doing business outside the market since it was inaugurated by Prime Minister Hun Sen in 1991. Now she pays 300 riels a day to the security guards, but it would cost her 3,000 riels per square meter at the new market if she moved.

"It would be a very hard situation for us, and we do not know where we can find justice, and now we have complained to Adhoc so they can help us selling at the old market instead of the new private one," Chheang Ly said, adding that if the new market was owned by the government, they would not mind moving because it could secure their right to keep selling.

The local investigator from the rights group Adhoc, Phuong Sothea, said that it would be harder for the vendors to maintain their stalls at the private market because the owner could move them away at any time.

"I have talked with the Pursat governor, who said that he wanted to keep the city clean," he said.

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