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LDP pledges to occupy disputed Kampot land

League for Democracy Party President Khem Veasna speaks to the press about the release of party members arrested for allegedly encroaching on Kampot’s Bokor National Park.
League for Democracy Party President Khem Veasna speaks to the press about the release of party members arrested for allegedly encroaching on Kampot’s Bokor National Park. Hong Menea

LDP pledges to occupy disputed Kampot land

The president of the League for Democracy Party yesterday said that he and his supporters planned to camp out on a disputed plot of land in Kampot’s Chhouk district today following the Saturday arrest of 13 supporters accused of clearing land in Bokor National Park.

Khem Veasna said party members will camp out on the disputed 20 hectares in Decho Aphivat commune to demand both the release of those arrested and a solution to the dispute itself.

“We will show the face of naughty people in Kampot province to the government,” he said. “We will put 40 to 50 people [at the site]. If they arrest 40, we will send another 50.”

There is a disagreement between authorities and LDP members about the circumstances surrounding Saturday’s arrests. Provincial authorities accused LDP supporters of both illegally clearing land in the park and harassing villagers living within a social land concession (SLC).

Veasna on Sunday had maintained the dispute was related to a disagreement between LDP supporter Ly Kimhong and his cousin over just a quarter-hectare of farmland, though yesterday said it had ballooned to encompass a much larger area.

Heng Phearak, an Adhoc official in the province, claimed there were 13 plots of land that were prepared as an SLC for veterans, and the disputed land involved just two of those plots.

Thus far, only three veteran families have moved in, but all 13 plots had been planted with mango trees, although no officials titles had been issued, Phearak said.

Veasna yesterday confessed to having himself purchased a half-hectare near the disputed area, and said Khieu Sopheak, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, also owned land there, among others. Sopheak couldn’t be reached for comment.

“So, whose land is it?” Veasna asked. “If it’s a social land concession, it must be a social land concession.”

The arrested will continue to be questioned today, according to police.

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