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Rebel China village set for new elections

AFP | Last Updated: Monday, March 31, 2014 - 03:27

Wukan: A Chinese village which held landmark democratic elections after it rebelled against Communist Party officials heads to the polls again on Sunday, shadowed by fears that local authorities are reasserting their grip on power.

The village of Wukan, in south China`s Guangdong province, grabbed headlines worldwide in 2011 when locals staged huge protests and drove out Communist Party officials they accused of illegal land grabs.
Protest leaders were swept to power in landmark elections months later.

Residents are set go to the polls again today to elect a new seven-member village committee. But the recent arrests of several former protest leaders have stoked fears that the election is under pressure from higher-level authorities.

Many residents of Wukan, a fishing village where locals said around 430 hectares of land had been illegally seized and sold, have become disillusioned with the committee leaders elected in 2012, after they failed to reclaim much of their land.
State-backed land-grabs are a key driver of unrest in rural China, fuelling the majority of the tens of thousands of protests taking place in the countryside each year, according to estimates.

The elections in Wukan were seen as unprecedented in their openness, leading some commentators to hail them as a model for democratic reforms in the country, where the ruling Communist Party does not tolerate organised opposition or multiparty elections.

First Published: Monday, March 31, 2014 - 03:27

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