World Hong Kong voters queue up early over fears of later clashes

04:15  24 november  2019
04:15  24 november  2019 Source:   reuters.com

More chaos looms in Hong Kong amid relentless city-wide protests

  More chaos looms in Hong Kong amid relentless city-wide protests Protesters block roads, stop trains and buses as campaign designed to paralyse city enters fourth day.Anti-government protesters paralysed parts of Hong Kong for a fourth day on Thursday, blocking highways and other transport links to disrupt the city and prompting schools to close amid a marked escalation of violence.

Hong Kong voters at some polling stations for district council elections were queuing up by the hundreds on Sunday morning, citing concerns voting could be halted later in the day after six months of sometimes violent unrest in the Chinese-controlled city. 

Hong Kong protesters fight off police with fire and arrows

  Hong Kong protesters fight off police with fire and arrows A Hong Kong police officer was hit in the leg by an arrow and protesters set an overhead footbridge on fire Sunday as they fought to keep police using tear gas and water cannons from advancing on their university campus stronghold. Police said the arrow struck a media liaison officer in the calf and he was taken to a hospital. Photos on the department’s Facebook page show the arrow sticking out of the back of the officer’s leg through his pants.As riot police moved in from all sides, some protesters retreated inside Hong Kong Polytechnic University while others set fires on bridges leading to it.

Brutal attacks on candidates have thrust Hong Kong's lowest-tier government onto the international stage, with the district elections seen as an important barometer of support for Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam's embattled administration.

Many see the polls as a "referendum" on support for the anti-government protest movement, coming as the city grapples with its biggest political crisis in decades.

A stand-off at Polytechnic University on Sunday entered its seventh day, with the campus surrounded by police as some protesters remained in classrooms and first aid workers roamed the campus.

As voting got underway at 7:30 a.m. (2330 GMT on Saturday), Reuters witnesses said there was only a small police presence, in contrast to earlier reports that riot police planned to guard all polling stations and almost all officers in the 31,000 strong force would be on duty.

Riot police storm Hong Kong Polytechnic University after all-night siege

  Riot police storm Hong Kong Polytechnic University after all-night siege Booms and rifle cracks could be heard on the road outside Polytechic Uni at around 5.20am local time, suggesting more tear gas had been fired.Riot police stormed a fortified university campus before dawn rushing behind protester lines and firing tear gas and rubber bullets from rifles.

Pictures: Hong Kong protests

Kevin Lai, a 45-year-old IT worker near the front of the line outside Wong Tai Sin primary school in Kowloon, said he came early over fears he wouldn't be able to vote later.

"Some people are afraid the elections will be stopped by unpredictable reasons — maybe some protests," he said as hundreds of voters in the landlocked neighborhood of housing estates wound around a block waiting their turn.

"We have to show we stand with Hong Kong," Lai said. "Most of the councilors stand with the government and are not helping Hong Kong."

Chan, 31, who was in front of the queue at the Fung Kam Sports Centre in Yuen Long, a rural district near the Chinese border, said she came early because she was expecting a big turnout.

"I have not seen an election like this before, but because of the situation it is important to vote .. .and I know many people feel like me," said Chan, who works in sales.

She said she grew up in Yuen Long but did not want to reveal any political allegiances. As she spoke, election officials prepared the ballot box in the middle of a basketball court. A lone police officer watched them.

The Fung Kam polling station is one of the closest to the Yuen Long railway station where suspected triad gangsters attacked anti government protesters and commuters on July 21.

A record 1,104 people are running for 452 district seats and a record 4.1 million Hong Kong people have enrolled to vote for district councillors, who control some local spending, and whose daily decisionmaking spans a range of neighborhood issues including recycling, transport and public healthcare.

Beijing-backed Lam cast her ballot at 8:30 a.m. in front of television cameras.

Some of the seats that were once uncontested, and dominated by pro-Beijing candidates, are now being fought for by young pro-democracy activists.

One of the candidates running in Sha Tin is Jimmy Sham of Civil Human Rights Front, organizer of some of the mass anti-government rallies in recent months who was beaten by men with hammers in October.

The protests started over a now-withdrawn bill that would have allowed people to be sent to China for trial, but which soon evolved into calls for full democracy, posing the biggest popular challenge to Chinese President Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.

Track Cycling World Cup leg to go ahead in Hong Kong this weekend .
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