Hong Kong government set to reveal election roadmap

HONG KONG (AFP) - Hong Kong's government was expected on Wednesday to reveal its final framework for controversial leadership elections, predicted to stick to tight restrictions from Beijing which sparked mass protests last year.

China's decision that candidates for the city's chief executive should be nominated by a committee, ahead of a public vote, triggered student-led street rallies for more than two months till December.

Hong Kong's number-two official Carrie Lam will present the final proposed roadmap for how the 2017 leadership election is to be held to the legislature on Wednesday morning, lawmakers said.

Lam and city leader Leung Chun Ying scheduled a press briefing for 0200 GMT.

Local media splashed the anticipated announcement across their front pages Wednesday, with the South China Morning Post calling it "D-day for Hong Kong".

The 2017 election is set to be the first-ever public vote for the city's leader - currently the chief executive is selected by a 1,200-strong committee stacked with pro-Beijing loyalists.

Activists have branded any election that adheres to Beijing's framework - universal suffrage based on pre-selected candidates - "fake democracy".

However, Hong Kong's leadership has consistently said that it cannot deviate from the ruling last August by China's National People's Congress.

Analysts say Wednesday's proposal will not challenge those restrictions.

"It's likely to be disappointing for those who would like a genuine democracy in Hong Kong because it's very likely to follow strictly the NPC Standing Committee decision," said Surya Deva, an associate professor at the City University of Hong Kong's law department.

The proposal will be voted on by legislators in the coming months, with pro-democracy lawmakers vowing to block it.

"The government will try their best to get the support of all lawmakers, especially the pro-democracy lawmakers," Carrie Lam said Tuesday.

"We will persevere until the final minute." Britain handed Hong Kong over to China in 1997 under a joint declaration which guaranteed political, social and economic freedoms not enjoyed on the Chinese mainland.

The semi-autonomous city is governed under that "one country, two systems" deal, but there are fears that freedoms are being eroded by increased influence from Beijing.

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