By Horace Lu
Guangdong’s Wukan village will re-elect new village leaders after a wave of massive protests which lasted for around 3 months captured nationwide attention. Lin Zulian (林祖恋), one of the protest leaders as well as the chief of a committee running the village after protesters gained control, has been appointed as the village’s Party Chief and is to organize the upcoming village election.
Lin, who is in his 60s, was named the new party leader on Sunday after villagers drove out the incumbent, a businessman who headed Wukan for 42 years and was accused of involvement in the land grabs.
He has been a party member since 1965, China’s official Xinhua news agency said.
“This is a decision that everyone in Wukan supports and it is an important move that will help resolve the land and village finance disputes,” a villager surnamed Zhang told AFP.
“The former party committee has been dissolved. The former head of the village party committee and other members of the committee have been detained and are under investigation for corruption.”
“The land issue is still not resolved, but the investigation is making progress and the villagers are optimistic of a positive outcome,” said Zhang, who asked that only his surname be used.
The three detained protesters have now been freed, but Zhang said Xue’s family was still negotiating with authorities over terms for the release of his body.
From September 21 until late December, villagers of Wukan had been protesting to regain their land, accusing local village leaders of selling land to developers without their consent and manipulating local elections.
Atmosphere was once extremely tense, with barricades set up by villagers spontaneously and heavy riot police presence.
However, the government then made concessions and conceded that the villagers had legitimate concerns.
The protests were replaced, according to China News Service, by flags and banners supporting the Communist Party, after the government promised to organize a re-election of the village committee, protect villagers’ interests and punish those held responsible.