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Villagers wary of Pheapimex olive branch

Villagers wary of Pheapimex olive branch

A deadly land dispute in Pursat province ended over the weekend with a victory for the villagers, but they said yesterday this might have more to do with the upcoming commune elections than a change of heart within the company owned by the wife of a senator.

The villagers from Tnort Chum commune in Krakor district said Pheapimex Group – which is owned by Choeng Sopheap, wife of Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khina – had agreed to return disputed land to them, following intervention by a group of CPP members from Phnom Penh on Saturday.

“I am afraid that after the commune election, they will take over our land again,” Kouch Veng, a representative of the villagers told the Post yesterday. He explained that the CPP members and the district governor had met with the villagers on Saturday while they protested in front of the company’s office, telling them they could erect a fence around land they had farmed.

“We have already set up a border fence around the land that was cleared by the company, and we hope the dispute will not happen again,” Kouch Veng said.

Villager Duok Sary was also suspicious, saying “this just might be an attempt to get us to vote for them”. Villager Long Sivy was concerned about the lack of a written agreement. “They can change their word anytime,” she said.

Earlier this month a supervisor at a Pheapimex cassava plantation was shot dead while driving to work in Krakor district. No arrests have been made in the apparent murder.

Pursat governor Khoy Sokha said he and other officials were working to find a solution to the long running land dispute.

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