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Remote areas ‘lacking services’

Political parties and their candidates are not delivering on election promises to improve the infrastructure in remote areas of the country, election monitoring group Comfrel said yesterday.

In a seminar on the needs of voters in distant communes hosted by Comfrel yesterday, executive director Koul Panha identified 350 “remote” and 100 “most remote” communes where villagers faced a serious shortage of necessary services.

The needs of those in remote villagers should always be a priority, not just during election season, he said.

“People living in remote communes really need help,” the executive director said.

Koul Panha said between 30 and 40 per cent of land in the “most remote” communes was the subject of disputes between villagers and private companies granted the land through economic land concessions.

“These remote areas are very difficult to access, but the companies want that area because there is valuable timber,” Koul Panha said.

Funcinpec secretary of state Tep Nonnary, a representative of one of the seven political parties at the seminar, criticised the government for granting huge tracts of land to private development companies, which he said made villagers poorer.

“Granting land concessions makes villagers the subordinates of business owners,” he said. Funcinpec is part of the coalition government with the Cambodian People’s Party, but it did not support granting land to private companies, he said.

Council of Ministers spokesman Ek Tha defended the government’s policy, saying it boosted development and reduced poverty.

Comfrel senior coordinator Kim Chhorn said CPP representatives declined to participate, stating that the party had “already done this work”.



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