Hong Kong protesters to hold street vote

Hong Kong protesters to hold street vote

HONG KONG - Hong Kong's democracy activists are planning a street vote to gauge protesters' views on conciliatory offers from the government, as the city's former leader on Friday called on them to clear the streets.

The leaders of the mass demonstrations that have paralysed parts of the city for nearly a month said they will poll demonstrators at the main protest camp opposite government headquarters on Sunday evening.

During face-to-face talks Tuesday with student leaders, government negotiators offered to write a report to Beijing detailing protester sentiments.

They also suggested both sides could set up a joint committee to discuss further political reform beyond the next leadership elections in 2017.

The student leaders initially dismissed the offers as lacking substance but have since decided to conduct a straw poll of voters to decide on their next move.

Details on the poll and how it will be conducted - including whether it will be extended to the two other protest sites in the Mongkok and Causeway Bay districts - are expected later Friday, protest groups said.

"The poll can quantify opinions and tell the government that people in different occupied areas are requesting the government to come up with a practical response," protest leader Alex Chow told reporters.

Plans for the vote came as former leader Tung Chee-hwa called the protests a "gross violation", warning that the consequences of continuing the rallies beyond a month were "very serious".

Tung was Hong Kong's first chief executive after the 1997 handover and was himself ousted after huge protests.

"We need to end this occupation because not only... is it hurting the livelihood of people but it's a gross violation of the law," Tung told reporters in his first public comments since the protests began nearly four weeks ago.

"One month is a long time already and the consequences of prolonging this occupation is very, very serious," he said of the movement's impact on the city's economy.

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