Authorities Pledge to Demarcate Contested Land

Officials in Phnom Penh’s Pur Senchey district have pledged to move ahead with marking the boundaries of a 5.67-hectare plot of land this week after the 68-year-old woman who claims to be the rightful owner of the land held off efforts to demarcate it last week.

Huot Sarom has been embroiled in a dispute with 120 villagers who have sold most of the property to Dy Proem, a cousin of Prime Minister Hun Sen.

Ms. Sarom says she has been farming the land since 1979, but last year, the Council of Ministers intervened and granted only 1 hectare to Ms. Sarom, awarding the rest to the villagers.

On Wednesday, armed with a sickle, Ms. Saron faced down dozens of military and district police deployed to protect villagers attempting to delineate the contested plot with wooden posts.

The following day, district governor Hem Darith endorsed a notice announcing that authorities would again attempt to implement the Council of Ministers’ decision on Thursday.

“On behalf of local authorities, we must implement that notice regardless of whether the notice is right or wrong,” Mr. Darith said Sunday. Ms. Sarom said she would die before relinquishing her property.

“If this property belonged to other people, it would not concern me,” she said. “But it belongs to me, so I will die in exchange for my land.”

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