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Takeo vendors to get market stalls

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Tonloab market vendors protest at the front of Hun Sen’s home in Takeo province last week.

Sok An orders new stores cleared for vendors who protested outside Hun Sen's residence.

VENDORS from Takeo province are to return to Kirivong district's Tonloab market after Deputy Prime Minister Sok An ordered 28 newly constructed stores destroyed on Saturday to make room for the vendors at their old location.

"We can now accept this resolution because without the deputy prime minister [market owners] would not have broken down the stores," Bun Theng, one of the Takeo vendors, said Monday.

Construction at the Tonloab market has been a source of controversy for several weeks, after vendors said that market owners had tricked them into giving up their old stalls so that the owners could begin new construction and raise rents.

On August 1, about 130 of the vendors walked the 30 kilometres to Phnom Penh to lodge a protest with Prime Minister Hun Sen's office. They returned to Phnom Penh to renew their protest in front of the prime minister's Takhmao residence again Thursday.

While the vendors were happy to see a resolution to the dispute, some still complained that the new location that has been set aside for some of them is separated from the market by a gas station.

"They allowed some vendors to move into the new market, but others are separated from it by the gas station," said Men Chana, another of the Takeo vendors.

"Now we want the authorities to link both locations with a roof, so it's still one market," Men Chana said.

The governor of Kirivong district, however, said he considered the matter closed.

"As we promised, they will have the right to sell at their old place," said Tek Songlim, Kirivong district governor.

"If they still want to protest, I don't understand what they want," Tek Songlim said.

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