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Macau starts unofficial referendum on democracy

Published on Aug 24, 2014 1:33 PM
Volunteers (right) display a banner and give out flyers on a street to raise awareness of an unofficial referendum in Macau on Sunday, Aug 24, 2014. Residents of the former Portuguese colony began voting in the referendum on Sunday, despite objections from Beijing. -- PHOTO: AFP

HONG KONG (AFP) - Residents of Chinese gambling hub Macau began voting in an unofficial referendum on electoral reform on Sunday, despite strong objections from Beijing.

The former Portuguese colony returned to Chinese rule in 1999 and has a separate legal system from the mainland. Like Hong Kong, Macau's leader is known as its chief executive and is chosen by a pro-Beijing electoral committee.

The referendum will run for a week and ends on Aug 30, just ahead of the naming of the enclave's new leader on Aug 31 by the 400-member committee.

The poll was designed by activists to garner public support for reforms in the city of 550,000.

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