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Preah Sihanouk disputants seek solutions

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More than 300 people from communities involved in land disputes in Preah Sihanouk gather in front of the provincial hall to push the governor to speed up the resolution process. Photo supplied

Preah Sihanouk disputants seek solutions

More than 300 people from communities involved in land disputes in Preah Sihanouk gathered in front of the provincial hall on Tuesday to push the governor to speed up the resolution process.

You Veasna, a representative of 10 land dispute communities, said on Tuesday that they had also requested ownership titling to begin as soon as possible and that their requests were received by the provincial governor for review.

“Villagers from 10 communities involved in land disputes have complained about the efficiency of the Preah Sihanouk provincial administration’s technical team. There have been many delays in the issuing of land titles to us. It has dragged on for many years."

“We are very afraid of other people coming to take our land because it was measured a long time ago but ownership titles have still not been issued,” Veasna said.

Morn Sina, a representative of communities from Stung Hav and Prey Nob districts, said that land disputes and rising land prices in the coastal province were a major concern.

He said the communities he represented were also afraid that attempts would be made to grab their land, so they requested the authorities to issue land titles for them as soon as possible.

Sina said that while protesting in front of Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall, Marng Sinet, the deputy governor, had invited 12 people to a meeting to report their concerns so authorities could resolve them.

“We would like to appeal to the relevant officials to speed up the land dispute resolution process and the issuance of ownership titles for villagers because since land prices have increased, we are afraid of losing our land and houses,” Sina said.

Preah Sihanouk governor Yun Min could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.

However, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Pearum said that Min had received the request to review their case at the meeting Sinet had invited the 12 people to.

Authorities said they could not intervene when a case is at court but agreed to resolve other disputes, he said.

“We have advised them that some of the plots we measured a long time cannot be issued with titles because they are either protected land or state reserve. Any land involved in a dispute cannot be issued a title pending a resolution. For land that belongs to the villagers, the authorities will issue titles for them, but they must be patient while we work on this,” Pearum said.

Chieb Sotheary, Preah Sihanouk provincial coordinator for rights group Adhoc, said land disputes between villagers and companies and powerful people in Preah Sihanouk remained longstanding.

“I urge the authorities to push for resolutions to land disputes as soon as possible because disputants cannot make a living while they are forced to protest,” she said.

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