Some 500 people from Trapaing Chou commune in Kampong Speu province’s Oral district gathered at Trapaing Chou pagoda to seek a solution to their long-running land dispute with Phnom Penh Sugar.
The company is owned by prominent tycoon Ly Yong Phat.
Meanwhile, the provincial governor said a small group of “ill-intentioned” people had incited villagers not to accept compensation from the authorities.
Soeng Sokhom who represented those from the 14 villages, said they wanted to bring their complaint to higher authorities.
“We want to find solutions and to talk with the Ministry of Land Management, Urban Planning and Construction,” he said.
The land dispute, which dates back to 2010, involved more than 1,032ha of rice fields, 366ha of farmland and 128ha of residential land in Oral and Odong districts.
“Villagers have protested for many years. We demanded the land back because some of us lived in the area since 1999, while other owners inherited the land from their ancestors a long time ago. Without the land, our lives are very difficult,” Sokhom said.
On Sunday, Kampong Speu provincial governor Vey Samnang said that authorities are seeking a balanced compromise.
He alleged that the villagers were incited not to accept compensation.
“The authority cannot ignore the villagers, but the investor cannot be abandoned either. We’ll find a solution."
“The people were convinced by ill-intentioned people not to accept the compensation we provided. They demanded too much. Each family demands tens of thousands of dollars. The company does not have the money to give them,” he said.
Coalition of Cambodian Farmers Community (CCFC) director Theng Savoeun said the authorities should expedite the process and provide a good example for other provinces to follow.
“The authority must negotiate with all parties to find a solution as soon as possible,” he said.