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New Village Will Mean Less Land, Locals Say

Villagers in Kampong Thom province say they've had land stolen by local authorities with plans to erect a new village.

Once the new village is built, near Sandan town, the land will be returned to the people, but instead of owning five to seven hectares, they will have two or three, villagers said.

Commune Chief Chhim Khon said the land was the property of a forestry concession company, not the people. He was seeking a way to have the people live on the land "lawfully," Chhim Khon said.

Villagers told VOA Khmer they worried local authorities were in cahoots with the concession company "to cede the land" from them.

"The land that belongs to the people is lawful, and it should not be divided equally like in the Pol Pot era," said villager Sau Tak.