Hong Kong chief executive refuses to step down

KONFRONTASI - Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has rejected a demand by demonstrators to step down amid escalating protests against election law in the Chinese territory.

Leung, however, said on Thursday that his administration is ready to hold talks with the protesters.

"The Hong Kong government is always willing to discuss the (political) reforms," he said.

The comments came after some protesters issued an ultimatum to Leung to resign "until the end of the day Thursday" or they would "occupy government buildings.”

Leung warned that any attempt to occupy government buildings would be met with tough measures.

According to reports, hundreds of protesters have gathered outside Leung’s office since early morning. As many as 50 police officers also stood guard around the building.

Hong Kong police also warned protesters of “serious consequences” if they try to occupy government buildings.

“This action will obstruct officers from carrying out their duties, which could lead to serious consequences,” Hong Kong police spokesperson, Steve Hui, said on Thursday.

The unrest in the city was triggered after China refused to allow open nominations for the city’s next chief executive in 2017, forcing the voters to choose from a list of two or three candidates selected by a nominating committee.

China has said it will introduce universal suffrage for the city’s 2017 election, but wants a committee to approve the candidates.

Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China. The financial hub has enjoyed substantial political autonomy since 1997, when its leadership returned to China after about a century of British colonial rule.[presstv]