City Suddenly Cancels Meeting With Residents of Group 78 Residents

Phnom Penh municipal officials at the last minute canceled a Tues­day meeting they had ar­ranged with residents from the Chamkar Mom district’s Group 78 community, who face eviction and are de­manding compensation.

Following a news conference last week when villagers presented a new proposal concerning compensation, City Hall sent out written invitations for residents and lawyers to attend a meeting to be chaired by Deputy Municipal Governor Mann Chhoeun, according to a copy of the invitation.

But after waiting for an hour outside City Hall Tuesday, about 100 Group 78 residents were told by security guards that the meeting had been canceled, said group representative Lim Sambo.

“We want to meet officials to find out what is the new policy or new word…after we proposed new prices for City Hall to consider,” Mr Sambo said.

Group 78 residents, who have been fighting eviction since 2006, outlined in their proposal last week that they are willing to accept compensation of 85 percent of the market value, which is estimated by Bonna Realty at $1,300 per square meter. If they accept the offer, the total cost for City Hall would be a little over $6 million, which would be distributed to residents according to how much land they own.

Reached by telephone Tuesday, Mr Chhoeun said the meeting had been canceled because officials were busy planning for the 575th anniversary of Phnom Penh but that a new meeting would be scheduled soon.

“I have seen the villagers’ proposal, but we have only two choices—$8,000 or $5,000 plus a 12-by-5 meter plot of land. If we cannot find a middle way, we will have to take measures,” he said, but declined to specify what measures.

The residents are now waiting to hear from the municipality or from the courts in regards to several recently filed complaints, including a request for an injunction to prohibit an eviction until a court has ruled on rightful ownership of the land, said Man Vuthy, a coordinator for NGO Community Legal Education Center, which is offering legal representation to the residents.

(Additional reporting by Cajsa Collin)



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