Hong Kong protesters to hold spot referendum

Hong Kong protesters to hold spot referendum

Pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong are to hold a spot referendum on whether to stay on the streets or accept government offers for more talks and clear their protest camps.

The three main groups behind the demonstrations said they would register public opinion on Sunday at the main protest site, where thousands remain camped out.

Hong Kong's administration has offered to submit a report to the central government noting the protesters' unhappiness with a Beijing-dictated plan to have a 1,200-strong committee pick candidates for the city's top leader in 2017 elections.

Protesters say the committee is weighted towards the central government's preferences and should be scrapped or at least reformed to better represent the Asian financial capital of 7.2 million people.

Hong Kong officials have also offered to hold regular dialogue with protesters about democratic reforms if they end their nearly month-long demonstrations, which have occupied streets in three of the city's busiest areas.

The Hong Kong Federation of Students, one of the main organisers behind the protests, has already rejected the government offer but still called for the Sunday referendum.

A spokeswoman for Occupy Central with Peace and Love, another protest group behind the referendum, said the ballot's language and more details would be released later.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the protests began, Tung Chee-hwa, the city's first chief executive after its 1997 transition from British to Chinese rule, said the protesters' demands were not realistic and that they should accept a longer timeline for electoral reforms.

"Students, I hope you listen to what this old man is saying," the 77 year old said in a news conference. "It's time to go home."


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