2 Jan 2013

Anti-govt protests in Hong Kong

9:30 am on 2 January 2013

Protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong on New Year's Day against chief executive Leung Chun-ying and to demand greater democracy.

Traffic on a main road was brought to a halt at one point.

Organisers claimed a combined turnout of 140,000, while the police put the figure at 28,500.

Pro-government groups who staged separate rallies claimed a total of 62,500 people attended. Police put their figure at 8560.

AAP reports that since taking office in July, Leung's popularity ratings have tumbled and he has faced a no-confidence vote in the legislature over structures at his home, which were built without planning permission.

He became chief executive after a rival for the position was brought down by a row over illegal structures at his own home.

Demonstrators have used the scandal to press for universal suffrage in choosing the leader of Hong Kong.

The territory was returned to Beijing in 1997, but has a semi-autonomous status, with guarantees of civil liberties such as the right to protest.

Beijing has said the chief executive could be directly elected in 2017, with the legislature following by 2020.