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Opposition Calls PM's War on Land Grabs a Front

Prime Minister Hun Sen's campaign against land-grabbers is a political tool to get ruling party votes at the ballot box in April's commune elections, opposition leader Sam Rainsy said Tuesday.

His criticism came after the prime minister’s declaration of war Sunday on those who steal land from the poor and warnings of bloodshed for those who resisted.

Land grabs, where high-ranking military and government officials take land from the rural poor and sell it off, are becoming increasingly political ahead of elections.

“If [Hun Sen] wants to do good deeds, why hasn't he addressed it before, why talk about it now, when it is close to the election?” Sam Rainsy asked.

The remarks were designed to sway the voters as part of the CPP’s election campaign, he said.

Rights workers also expressed skepticism of the Cambodian leader’s latest promises.

“This is a politician’s politics, especially when the election is near,” Thun Saray, Ad Hoc's human rights director, said.

Yen Vireak, Director of the Community Legal Education Center, said he has heard these pledge many time before.

"It’s not enough because [Cambodians] are still angry and they still cry,” he said.

Government spokesman Khieu Kanharith asked Hun Sen’s critics to wait for his next step.