Hong Kong protesters confronted by rivals

Police struggle to keep peace as scuffles erupt in apparent backlash against sit-in that has brought city to standstill.

    Hong Kong protesters confronted by rivals
    Protesters are opposed to a reform that requires candidates for 2017 elections to be approved by Beijing [AFP]

    Demonstrators calling for electoral reform have scuffled with opponents in two of Hong Kong's busiest shopping districts, with police stepping in to try to calm the chaos.

    Around 200 demonstrators were confronted by a larger group that started to dismantle barricades in Mong Kok in an apparent backlash against the demonstrations, which have brought parts of the city to a standstill for days.

    "Give us Mong Kok back, we Hong Kongers need to eat!" shouted one man removing the barricades there.

    Al Jazeera reporters witnessed police desperately trying to keep the rival sides apart and protesters being escorted from the scene.

    Trouble also broke out between smaller rivals groups in Causeway Bay.

    The demonstrators are calling on Beijing to guarantee full democracy to the former British colony, instead of vetting candidates who want to stand for the chief executive's job in 2017 elections.

    Thousands of protesters filled the business district at the peak of protests. Schools have been closed, traffic blocked, and civil servants have been off work. 

    Some of those confronting the protesters appeared to do so because demonstrations disrupted their businesses and shops.

    'Wind out of the sails'

    However, the protests seemed to have lost steam and crowds had dwindled on Friday after the leader of the Chinese territory refused to step down and instead offered dialogue.

    Student protesters had threatened to surround or occupy government buildings if Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying did not step down by midnight on Thursday.

    Chief Secretary Carrie Lam, who has been tasked with arranging the talks, on Friday appealed to protesters to end their action in the name of law and order. She said negotiations with students had not started and that details were still to be worked out.

    Al Jazeera's Fauziah Ibrahim, reporting from the protest site outside Leung's office as rain drizzled down, said there was no indication of when the first dialogue meeting would happen, and that had "taken the wind out of the sails of the protest".

    The Hong Kong Federation of Students said in a statement early on Friday that they planned to join the talks with the government, focused specifically on political reforms. They reiterated that Leung step down, saying he "had lost his integrity".

    A wider pro-democracy group that had joined the demonstrations, Occupy Central, welcomed the talks and also insisted that Leung quit.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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