Hong Kong students seek referendum to decide future of protests

Hong Kong, Oct 24: Pro-democracy leaders have convened a consultation among protesters to decide if they should accept the government's proposals to move forward with negotiations on possible electoral reforms in Hong Kong.

Alex Chow, secretary of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, and Benny Tai, one of the founders of the Occupy Central protest movement, suggested the consultation late Thursday to a crowd gathered outside the Hong Kong government headquarters.

The decision was made after unsuccessful talks between the students and the administration this week, and protesters continued their almost one-month occupation of city streets.

The protest organisers said they would ask the demonstrators to vote on which way to go with the negotiations Sunday.

However, the occupation of areas in the city would continue, Chow and Tai said.

The protesters argued that it was the government's duty to offer a solution to the situation, and again demanded fully democratic elections in 2017 for senior municipal posts.

During the first talks between the students and the government Tuesday, Hong Kong Chief Secretary Carrie Lam offered the possibility of sending a report to the central Chinese government reflecting the opinion of the citizens on electoral reforms made by the Popular National Assembly (PNA) for Hong Kong which is restricting the free election of candidates for the 2017 elections.

Lam also considered creating a platform where all citizens could participate in the development of possible long-term constitutional reforms for Hong Kong.

The Hong Kong Federation of Students rejected the government offers in the first instance on grounds that they did not have the binding power to reverse PNA's decision last August and it also considered that the proposals should address the electoral situation in 2017.

The talks took place three weeks after the start of the largest civil disobedience campaign in favour of greater democratic freedoms in Hong Kong

In Mong Kok district, one of the three occupied districts, groups of protesters spent part Thursday night reinforcing barricades that had been removed by opponents of the movement during clashes that occurred between the parties throughout the day.


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