Hong Kong protesters to vote on talks offer

Groups behind demonstrations calling for electoral reform to hold spot referendum on whether to accept government offer.

Protesters in Hong Kong have said they plan to hold a spot referendum on whether to stay on the streets or accept a government offer for more talks and clear their protest camps.

The three main groups behind the demonstrations said on Thursday that they would register public opinion on Sunday at the main protest site.

Thousands have remained camped out in the area for nearly a month, calling for electoral reforms in the southern Chinese city.

Hong Kong’s government has offered to submit a report to the central government noting the protesters’ unhappiness with a Beijing-backed plan to have a 1,200-person 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 offered to hold regular dialogue with protesters about democratic reforms if they end their 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’s offer but still called for the Sunday referendum.

Fresh talks

On Wednesday, student leaders had said they might not take part in further talks with the government after accusing city authorities of failing to make any meaningful offers.

People and Power – Hong Kong: Occupy Central (Part 1)

The comments were a blow to the city’s Beijing-backed leaders who had  expressed hopes for fresh rounds of talks after meeting face-to-face with  students on Tuesday night for the first time.

The negotiations were widely seen as the only way to end the demonstrations  without a  police crackdown or further violence.

Government officials have stuck to the official position that Hong Kong’s mini-constitution cannot be amended to accommodate protesters’ demands, while also saying that many others do not share their views.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying told reporters before Tuesday’s talks that the government would not let the public nominate candidates to run in inaugural direct elections to succeed him in 2017, as demanded by the thousands of protesters camping out on main streets across the city.

He said such changes could be covered in a second round of consultations over the next several months.

“How we should elect the 1,200 so that the nominating committee will be broadly representative, there’s room for discussion there,” Leung said.

“There’s room to make the nominating committee more democratic, and this is one of the things we very much want to talk to not just the students but the community at large about.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies