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Thousands gather for Hong Kong pro-democracy march

Published on Jul 1, 2014 3:44 PM

HONG KONG (AFP) - Carrying banners and chanting slogans, thousands of protesters gathered on Tuesday for a pro-democracy rally in Hong Kong that organisers say could be the largest since the city was handed back to China.

The rally reflects surging discontent over Beijing's insistence that it vet candidates before a vote in 2017 for the semi-autonomous city's next leader.

The march comes after nearly 800,000 people voted in an informal referendum demanding a electoral mechanism that allows voters to nominate candidates. The poll has irked Beijing, which branded it "illegal and invalid" despite the unexpectedly high turnout.

The city's Victoria Park, the starting point of the march that will culminate in the skyscraper-packed Central business district, was a sea of umbrellas as well as banners bearing slogans such as "We want real democracy" and "Civil nominations for all". Some protesters sang the Cantonese version of "Do You Hear the People Sing?" - the anthem from the musical and film "Les Miserables".

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