Wukan village kicks off election of new leadership

Updated: 2012-02-01 13:19


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WUKAN, Guangdong - Thousands of residents in the southern Chinese village of Wukan, known for recent massive protests regarding illegal land use and other issues, on Wednesday saw the start of an election for new leadership after former village heads were removed.

Wednesday's voting will result in the selection of an independent election committee to supervise upcoming rounds of voting for villagers' representatives and a new village committee, according to election procedures.

Eleven villagers who will make up the election committee will not be permitted to run for the village committee.

"This is to ensure fairness in the coming village committee election," said Lin Zulian, the village's Communist Party of China (CPC) secretary. Lin was appointed secretary following last year's protests.

On Sept 21 and 22 last year, villagers in Wukan, which is administered by the city of Lufeng in Guangdong province, began to protest against village authorities over issues related to land use, financing and the election of village officials, with large-scale protests occurring in the village on Nov 21 and 22.

The village residents gathered again on December 11 after Xue Jinbo, a man who was suspected of organizing the November demonstrations, died in police custody.

Officials from provincial work team in charge of handling the village's unrest have conceded that the major demands of the residents were reasonable and "some mistakes" were made by local officials.

They also announced that the election of the former village leaders in February of last year was invalid and new election was to be organized.

The previous election drew complaints from the villagers, as a failure to publicize the list of candidates and the fact that some of the candidates acted as election organizers violated several election laws and regulations.