Locals Halt Demolition of Illegal Angkor Park Home

The government body charged with managing the Angkor Archaeological Park on Tuesday temporarily backed off plans to demolish one of several hundred illegally built homes and shophouses after at least 50 people gathered, threatening to protest if they went ahead.

Officials say that more than 500 houses and shops have gone up without permission in Siem Reap City’s Nokor Thom commune, inside the park, in the weeks leading up to the June 4 commune elections. They started demolishing two of them on Monday, with the owners’ consent.

But when about 30 employees of the Apsara Authority, which runs the park, arrived at another house on Tuesday to tell the owner to tear it down, they were met by dozens of angry locals and decided to retreat.

Rohal village chief Pheang Poeu put the number of gathered locals at more than 100. Apsara Authority spokesman Long Kosal said there were about 50.

“We asked a house owner to remove it himself today but he refused,” Mr. Kosal said of the concrete structure.

He said the Apsara Authority wanted to convince the owners to raze their own homes or secure their consent to do it for them to avoid conflict.

Some of the people who built the homes and shophouses have accused the local authorities of letting them move in ahead of the elections so as not to risk costing the ruling CPP any votes.

Authorities say the people were told not to move in but built their homes and shops anyway while the authorities were distracted with other work.

pheap@cambodiadaily.com

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