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Direct Election of Villagers Committee Promoted

Direct election of the villagers' committee, a democratic model featuring villagers directly electing members of the self-governing organization, was discussed during a law symposium November 8 in Beijing.

At the three-day symposium on implementation of the Organic Law of Villagers' Committee, an official from the civil affairs department of northeast China's Jilin Province gave a presentation on how farmers in Lishu County of the province created such a model eight yeas ago.

In 1992, farmers of Ping'an Village in the county decided to let all legal voters recommend candidates they like. Of the elected 76 candidates, 19 were selected according to the number of votes they got for the second-round election. After the second election, decisions were made on formal candidates. Through the third-round or final election, a villagers' committee was finally formed.

The official noted that experts and officials form a dozen countries including a delegation from the Carter Center of the US, hailed the direct election model after observing the electing process in the county. They held that the process is transparent, just, and democratic and some even labeled it as one of six typical democratic models across the world.

As a matter of fact, such a model has been written into the revised Organic Law of Villagers' Committee, enacted in 1998 by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's parliament.

The revised law, aiming to promote democratic administration at the grassroots level, explicitly stipulates that candidates should be directly nominated by the voters in electing a villagers' committee.

Cao Zhi, vice chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, pointed out in his written presentation that governments and people's congresses at all levels should protect the legitimate rights of farmers to select their own villagers' committees, in the meantime, Communist Party branch at the village level should play the leading role in administrating the village.

Cao Zhi said that since the villagers' committee is the farmers' autonomous organization, town or township government should not appoint or dismiss members of the villagers' committee, nor should it interfere with the affairs under the administration of the villagers' committee.

However, town or township government should assume its own duty of offering guidance, support and aid to the work of the villagers' committee.

The symposium, sponsored by the NPC Committee for Internal and Judicial Affairs, was concluded Wednesday afternoon. Some 60 officials, lawmakers and scholars from all over the country attended the symposium.

(People's Daily 11/08/ 2000

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