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Monday, 16 March, 1998, 22:52 GMT
Li Peng remains China's No. 2
200 delegates voted against Li Peng
China's outgoing Premier, Li Peng, has been elected to the powerful position of head of the National People's Congress, but with a large number of dissenting votes.

A total of 2,616 delegates voted for Mr Li, the only candidate, but 200 voted against and 126 abstained, a congress official said.

The National People's Congress also re-elected Communist Party chief and President Jiang Zemin to the presidency, and Hu Jintao was approved as vice president, both almost unanimously.

li peng
Mr Li resists economic and democratic reform
Since most candidates for the top government posts ran unopposed, in keeping with Communist Party tradition, the outcome of the vote was as expected, apart from the ballots cast against Mr Li.

In recent weeks outspoken dissidents have protested at his candidacy for chairman of the NPC, saying he is unfit for further public office.

Mr Li is widely disliked for declaring martial law in Beijing in May 1989, weeks into democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. The declaration paved the way for the military assault on June 4 that killed hundreds and led to the arrest of thousands of others.

But Mr Li's supporters launched a strong lobbying campaign among parliamentary delegates to ensure his election by a strong majority.

Although Mr Li, 69, is moving from the executive to the legislative branch of government, he remains the highest ranking member of the Communist Party's all-powerful Politburo standing committee after President Jiang Zemin.

Surrounding him on the NPC standing committee will be 19 vice chairman, also elected on Monday.

See also:

05 Mar 98 | Asia-Pacific
China's parliament may rebel
05 Mar 98 | Monitoring
Li Peng speech: Key points
05 Mar 98 | Asia-Pacific
China plans radical overhaul of government
16 Mar 98 | Analysis
China: Who's Hu?
16 Mar 98 | Analysis
Li Peng profile
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