Hong Kong protesters scrap vote on government proposals

A photo made available 26 October 2014 shows pro-democracy co-leaders (L-R) Benny Tai, Alex Chow and Joshua Wong holding a press conference to announce the holding of a poll or referendum the next day among pro-democracy advocates, in Admiralty district of Hong Kong, China, 25 October 2014 Image copyright EPA
Image caption Protest leaders said there had been inadequate consultation before the snap poll was announced

Protesters in Hong Kong have abandoned plans to hold a ballot over whether to accept several government concessions.

Protest leaders said they decided to "adjourn" the vote after disagreements over its format and apologised for a "lack of discussion" with protesters.

The vote was to be held electronically and was cancelled just four hours before it was meant to start.

Tens of thousands of protesters have joined a sit-in calling for full democracy in Hong Kong since September.

On Tuesday, student protest leaders and government officials held talks for the first time, but made little progress towards ending the impasse.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Protesters have continued a sit-in in central Hong Kong, but their numbers have dwindled

The government, represented by deputy leader Carrie Lam, offered to send a report to Chinese government officials reflecting the protesters' views, and set up a platform to facilitate dialogue on future constitutional changes.

'Hasty' poll decision

Protest leaders initially rejected the government's offer before pledging on Friday to hold the now-cancelled vote.

"We feel we have been conducting the vote hastily," said Benny Tai, one of the founders of the Occupy Central protest group,

"We decided to adjourn the vote at the square but it doesn't mean the movement has stopped," he told AFP.

In a statement, Occupy Central said: "We apologise to the public for the lack of discussion among the participants before making the previous decision."

Though numbers have fallen significantly since the early days of the protests, a hard core of demonstrators - mostly students - have said they will not give up their occupation of central areas until China changes its mind on the rules for Hong Kong's 2017 election.

They also want Chief Executive CY Leung to stand down.

The Chinese government has ruled that candidates for the chief executive election must be vetted by a nominating committee dominated by pro-Beijing groups. The protesters say they should be allowed a wholly free choice of candidate.

Chinese and Hong Kong leaders say the street protest is illegal.