Guangdong, China — Residents of Wukan, a village in the southern province of Guangdong, continued village committee elections on Sunday [March 4th], several months after residents staged massive protests over illegal land sales and abuse of power.
The chief and deputy chief were elected by villagers on Saturday, and five other seats for the seven-member committee will be filled after Sunday’s by-election from candidates.
On Saturday, Lin Zulian, who was appointed the village’s Communist Party of China (CPC) Secretary after the protests, won 6,205 votes in an overwhelming victory to become the village chief in the election with a voter turnout of 81.45 percent.
Yang Semao, who won 3,609 votes, was elected deputy chief of the committee.
Voting began at noon on Sunday at a village school and will last until 5 p.m. The results are expected to be announced later Sunday night.
Villagers also have to elect seven group leaders on Sunday after an election on Feb. 11 failed to complete the task as all the candidates failed to secure half of each group’s votes.
Sunday’s election results will only be valid if more than half of the village’s registered voters cast their votes and each candidate secures no less than one-third of all the votes, said Hong Tianbin, director of the election committee.
Wukan has about 12,000 villagers, 8,222 of whom are of legal age and are therefore entitled to vote.
The residents of Wukan confronted the local government over illegal land grabs, financing and the violation of local election regulations last year.
The protests simmered for months before turning violent in December when a village representative died in police custody. Police then sealed off the village’s exits to stop protesters, while the villagers barricaded village entrances to stop local security forces and government officials.
The protests came to an end in late December after a provincial government work team held talks with the villagers. The group acknowledged that the villagers’ demands were reasonable and that “some mistakes” were made by local officials.
The Wukan incident, which turned from mass protests to democratic elections, and from confrontations to talks with authorities, showed the progress the Chinese government has made in seriously addressing people’s concerns and safeguarding their interests, lawmakers and experts said at the top legislature’s annual meeting, which is currently being held in Beijing.
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