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HK Offers Concession to Protesters

HK Offers Concession to ProtestersHK Offers Concession to Protesters

The panel chosen to pick candidates for Hong Kong’s 2017 election could be made “more democratic”, the territory’s leader said on Tuesday, the first indication of a possible concession to protesters who have blocked city streets for weeks.

Leung Chun-ying was talking just hours before formal talks got under way between student protest leaders and city officials aimed at defusing the crisis in the former British colony that returned to Chinese rule in 1997, Reuters reported.

“There’s room for discussion there,” he told reporters. “There’s room to make the nominating committee more democratic.”

In August, Communist Party rulers in Beijing offered Hong Kong people the chance to vote for their own leader in 2017, but said only two to three candidates could run after getting majority backing from a 1,200-person nominating committee.

Discussion of the injection of more democracy into the formation of the nominating committee could only start later in the year when the city government launches a new round of consultations for electoral methods, Leung told reporters in a conference room in his office building.

Three large screens and projectors were set up at the tent-strewn main protest site on a thoroughfare in the Admiralty district, next to the government offices. Thousands of people jammed around them to watch the dialogue.

Leung, who was not taking part in the talks with students, declined to say if there was a deadline for clearing the protesters from city streets and said the government did not have “any instructions from Beijing”.

But he said he believed that people of Hong Kong were losing patience.

The government canceled talks scheduled for earlier this month after the students called for the protests to expand.

Hong Kong’s streets have been calm after dozens of people were injured in two nights of clashes over the weekend in the Mong Kok shopping district, including 22 police.

Besides Mong Kok, where demonstrators remain, about 1,000 protesters are camped out at the headquarters of the civil disobedience “Occupy” movement at Admiralty in a sea of tents on an eight-lane highway beneath skyscrapers close to government headquarters.

Hong Kong is ruled under a “one country, two systems” formula that allows it wide-ranging autonomy and freedoms and specifies universal suffrage as an eventual goal.

 

Financialtribune.com