Villagers Hold Election in China's Wukan Protest Town

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Residents of Wukan in southern China held an election on Wednesday after months of turmoil. They voted in an eleven-member committee to oversee preparations for a March election to replace local leaders.

The town of Wukan in China's Guangdong Province made world headlines in December over a series of large-scale protests, and conflicts with local Communist Party authorities. Now, townspeople are preparing for elections.

An 11-member election committee was installed after a vote on Wednesday. It's tasked with overseeing preparations for elections on March 1 to replace local leaders, who were dismissed as part of the deal that ended the protest standoff.

The daughter of village protest organizer Xue Jinbo visited her father's memorial in the village square before voting. His death in police custody last year sparked further protests. His body, which family members said bore marks of torture, has yet to be returned by authorities.

[Xue Jianwan, Daughter of Protest Organizer Xue Jinbo]:
"This is something my father would have hoped for. We just want to do our best to fulfill his final wishes."

As more than 6000 people streamed into the school, several dozen police in green uniforms and caps guarded the entrance, with several police vans nearby.

Such small-scale elections are common in China, and are almost always dominated by candidates handpicked by Communist Party authorities. That underlying suspicion was voiced by one villager who did not give his name.

"I am concerned that the voting is manipulated and used by some people with ulterior motives to elect the man we don't trust."

Whether non-Party candidates will fare any better in Wukan remains to be seen.

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