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Kandal villagers seek resolution to dispute

Kandal villagers seek resolution to dispute

More than 200 villagers from Kandal’s Kien Svay district gathered in protest yesterday to urge the National Authority for Land Dispute Resolution to resolve their long-standing dispute with a CPP official.

The protesters assembled in the Samrong Thom commune brandishing photos of the prime minister and his wife, encouraging authorities to find a resolution to the dispute, in which they claim to have lost more than 1,000 hectares of farmland.

Village representative Hem Sopheap said more than 850 families lost their land in 2005, when Lok Hour, a Phnom Penh Municipal Council member and former deputy cabinet director for senate president Chea Sim, took possession of the land, forbidding villagers to continue farming.

Later in 2005, Prime Minister Hun Sen had sent a letter to the NALDR instructing it to find a resolution for the villagers, but nothing had been done, Hem Sopheap said.

“Today, we gather to find ways to continue farming the land we have not been allowed to farm. For about seven years, military officials have been hired to be stationed on the land to threaten us,” she said.

Hem Sopheap said villagers had tried to enter the disputed land earlier this month, but were blocked by police and ordered by the district governor to leave the area.

“The villagers have been farming on this land since 2000. Please, will the national authority help to work [the land dispute] out?” she said.

Kien Svay district governor Heng Theam said yesterday  Lok Hour owned 2,000 hectares of land in the Banteay Dek and Samrong Thom communes, half of which villagers in the area claimed to possess.

“I told the villagers not to touch this land and left it for the authority [NALDR] to solve,” the district governor said.

He added that he had contacted NALDR last week to seek a resolution to the dispute, but had not received any sort of response.

Officials at NALDR could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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