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Hong Kongers queue at polling booths to defy Beijing over reform

Published on Jun 22, 2014 2:22 PM
 
A woman leaves a polling station during a civil referendum held by Occupy Central in Hong Kong on Sunday, June 22, 2014. Hong Kong citizens cast their ballots in an unofficial referendum on democratic reform on Sunday, with booths opening across the territory after an online poll that enraged Beijing and stunned organisers with a huge response of more than 500,000 votes. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

HONG KONG (AFP) - Hong Kong citizens cast their ballots in an unofficial referendum on democratic reform on Sunday, with booths opening across the territory after an online poll that enraged Beijing and stunned organisers with a huge response of more than 500,000 votes.

Tensions are growing in the former British colony over the future of its electoral system, with increasingly vocal calls from residents to be able to choose who can run for the chief executive post.

Hong Kong's leader is currently appointed by a 1,200-strong pro-Beijing committee. China has promised direct elections for the next chief executive in 2017, but has ruled out allowing voters to choose which candidates can stand.

Beijing and Hong Kong officials have dismissed the poll as illegal, but participation since voting began online on Friday has already beaten all expectations - surprising even its organisers, the Occupy Central movement, and defying a massive cyberattack.

 
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