Newsday, Calls for Hong Kong's leader to resign

18 Juin, 2019, 17:07 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam plans a news conference Tuesday afternoon following massive protests against an extradition bill and calls for her to resign. Their decision to move allowed police to reopen streets to traffic.

"I personally have to shoulder much of the responsibilities", Lam told reporters Tuesday, in her first public address since suspending the proposal on Saturday.

The Beijing-controlled newspaper Ta Kung Pao said on Tuesday morning that Lam would hold a press conference to apologise again and formally announce the law's withdrawal, but hours later withdrew the article without providing further detail.

Shortly after daybreak, the police had asked for co-operation in clearing the road but said the protesters could stay on the sidewalks.

The framework was put in place when Hong Kong was handed back to China by the United Kingdom in 1997 and is a frequent cause of tension between the city and the mainland.

On Sunday, organizers say nearly 2 million people marched the streets of the city till the late hours of the night - for the second time in a week. Police said 338,000 were counted on the designated protest route in the "peak period" of the march.

The scenes were similar to those seen almost five years earlier, when protesters camped for weeks in the streets to protest rules that prevented the direct election of the city's chief executive, the top local official. He has said he will join the current protesters.

One of the activists arrested after those demonstrations, Joshua Wong, was released from prison on Monday after serving half of a two-month sentence on a contempt charge.

More than 25 percent of the city's population, dressed in black, flooded the streets on June 16-making it the largest protest in the city's history.

"For this I offer my most honest apology to all people of Hong Kong".

Wong said he watched footage of Sunday's protest, in which marchers called for Lam to step down, from his jail cell.

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Police used tear gas, steel batons and rubber bullets to subdue protesters during scuffles outside the government headquarters last Wednesday. That worsens the potential legal consequences for those involved. Universal suffrage - which in Hong Kong is shorthand for direct elections of the city's chief executive - was the main goal of the Occupy protests.

"The chief executive apologizes to the people of Hong Kong for this and pledges to adopt a most honest and humble attitude to accept criticisms and make improvements in serving the public", it said.

Not enough, said the pro-democracy activists. People tried in China can not enjoy the protection of human rights and rule of law, he said.

Beijing continues to support Ms Lam in the face of new wave of protests. Carrie Lam step down.

"It doesn't really matter because the next one would be just as evil", said Kayley Fung, 27.

But Hong Kongers defiantly demonstrated en masse in the past week against a bill that was seen as another sign of the Chinese Communist Party's growing influence in the city, which should enjoy its own laws and certain liberties such as freedom of speech until 2047 under the terms of its handover from Britain to China in 1997.

Lam, a career civil-servant known as "the fighter" for her straight-shooting and tough leadership style, took office two years ago pledging to heal a divided society.

She has sidestepped questions over whether she should quit and also defended how the police dealt with last week's clashes with demonstrators.

Lam has insisted the legislation is needed for Hong Kong to uphold justice and not become a magnet for fugitives.

Hongkongers demanded that the city government withdraw the extradition bill, which would allow mainland China to seek extradition of suspects.

"As a Hong Konger I should protect Hong Kong and tell Taiwanese people that it is necessary to oppose the extradition bill", said a college student from Hong Kong, surnamed Nip.

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