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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Vendors take their case to the premier

Vendors take their case to the premier

Tonloab market sellers protest despite alleged threats.

AFTER their vans were confiscated by authorities, market vendors from Takeo province travelled more than 30 kilometres on foot to the Takhmao house of Prime Minister Hun Sen on Saturday to urge him to intervene in a dispute with the market's owner, several vendors told the Post Sunday.

The Tonloab market vendors said Takeo provincial authorities confiscated seven vans that the group of 130 protesters had hired to get to the prime minister's house.

The decision to stage the protest came after a district governor on Thursday allegedly
warned a market representative at gunpoint not to travel there.

"Even though the authorities tried to ban us, we came to Phnom Penh, and yesterday we arrived at the PM's house," vendor Nhen Pros said.

"We want him to help us because the market owner broke his promise."

Vendors said the owner of the market told them to leave their stalls while it underwent maintenance work. When the vendors went to reclaim their stalls, they said, the owner had already put them up for sale at a higher price.

Photo by: Tracey Shelton
Tonloab market vendors hold signs and pictures of Prime Minister Hun Sen during a protest at his Takhmao home Sunday.

Nothing to 'worry about'
Lim Leang Se, deputy chief of Hun Sen's Cabinet, said Sunday he had told the vendors they could return home because there was nothing to "worry about".

"The people came to protest because they were afraid that they would lose business when the market owner paved the market. But now I have settled their problem and let them go back home," he said.

"After they finish the construction they can go back to their old place," he added.

But Bun Theng, another vendor, said she would not return home until the vendors met the prime minister.

"We want to see his face. We want him to help protect our right to sell at the location," she said.

In reference to the confiscation of the vans, Prak Sarann, the Adhoc provincial coordinator, said the authorities were using their power to restrict people's right to protest.



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