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Model stalls provide vendors from Preah Vihear an array of options

Model stalls provide vendors from Preah Vihear an array of options

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A soldier stands in the ruins of the Preah Vihear market days after it was destroyed by border fighting.

Displaced families will begin selecting stalls this week, although there is still no word on when the market will be fully rebuilt and operational.

BEGINNING this week, vendors at a market near Preah Vihear temple that was demolished by Thai rocket fire in early April are to have the opportunity to choose from new stalls designed by the Preah Vihear National Authority (PVNA).

"We finished construction of the model stalls over the weekend," said Hang Soth, the PVNA's director general. "We will allow people to choose whichever stall they want, and later there will be a ballot so they can choose a location."

The stalls come in three sizes: 2-by-4 metres, 4-by-12 metres and 4-by-20 metres. Hang Soth said vendors would need to pay for the stalls themselves, adding that a 4-by-12-metre stall would cost roughly US$2,000.

About 319 families who lived and worked at the market were displaced during an exchange of gunfire between Cambodian and Thai soldiers on April 3 that destroyed all 264 stalls, according to accounts from Cambodian military officials.

The Cambodian government in May demanded US$2.1 million from the Thai government to pay for the damages, though there has been no response from Bangkok.

Prime Minister Hun Sen said last month that he wanted to see the market completely rebuilt by late July.

Thailand's border communications office wrote on July 30 to its Cambodian counterpart, claiming that the construction of new stalls at the market violated a memorandum of understanding on border demarcation signed between the two countries in 2000.

Cambodian officials rejected that claim, saying the market reconstruction had nothing to do with the continuing standoff over contested territory.

Sor Thavy, deputy governor of Preah Vihear province, said Sunday that he did not know when construction of the market would be complete.

"We have tried to get this work finished because we want people to get their businesses running and begin serving tourists in the area," he said.

"I hope people can start building their stalls soon."

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