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Macau arrests five over unofficial democracy poll

Published on Aug 25, 2014 12:27 PM

HONG KONG (REUTERS) - Police in Macau detained five people involved in staging an unofficial referendum on democracy in the southern Chinese territory, organisers said, nearly two months after activists angered Beijing by conducting a similar poll in Hong Kong.

The informal referendum among Macau's 600,000 residents coincides with the widely expected re-election of local leader Fernando Chui next Sunday. But it is an official body of 400 that elects the leader, similar to Hong Kong where a small committee of largely pro-Beijing loyalists chooses who gets on the ballot, effectively rendering the ability to vote meaningless.

The informal referendum in Macau, the world's biggest gambling hub, asks whether the new leader should be elected by universal suffrage in 2019.

Activists and local media said on Monday that five people were arrested for allegedly breaching the privacy law. Among those detained was organiser Jason Chao, who was charged with "serious disobedience with police', activists said. The five have been released.

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