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Village elections must be upright

CHINA issued a circular on Saturday urging candidates to practice fair play in the direct elections of village heads amid complaints of bribery and other dirty tricks to win votes.

"The villagers' committee election work in some rural areas is not properly conducted as the bribery situation is grave and seriously harms the impartiality of election," said the circular jointly issued by the General Office of the State Council and the General Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.

Punishment - ranging from disqualification from elections and removal from post to criminal penalties - will be given to those who try to win votes from villagers with money, violence or intimidation and those who cheat in vote count, according to the circular.

Villagers have the right to report any improper behavior of the candidates and such reports should be investigated and managed immediately, the circular said.


"Currently, the country's rural areas are experiencing fresh reform and farmers' ideas are also undergoing deep changes," said the circular. "Improving the work of elections will help ensure villagers practice their rights and develop grassroots democracy."

In addition, government organizations at provincial, city, county and township levels should set up special departments to regulate and guarantee the smooth run of village elections.

The circular urged authorities ?to "carefully" deal with post-election issues, such as auditing the work of former villagers' committees, ensuring former committee members' social welfare and even comforting candidates who lose.

A villagers' committee comprises local villagers, usually five members, that manages village affairs.

China has introduced the practice of self-administration and direct elections at village levels since the Organic Law of Villagers' Committees was enacted in 1988.

The law, which sets out basic principles to ensure democracy at a local level, states that any villager aged 18 years or over has the right to vote or stand as a candidate.


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