The organizers of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests have canceled a vote on what the next step should be in their month long street occupation, saying they hadn’t properly consulted with the public before calling the referendum.
The two-day vote, which had been scheduled for Sunday and Monday, was supposed to have asked the protesters about counter proposals to an offer made by Hong Kong’s government following last week’s talks between student protest leaders and authorities.
The government offered to submit a report to Beijing noting the protesters’ unhappiness with a decision to have an appointed committee screen candidates for the semi-autonomous city’s leader, known as the chief executive.
Protesters are demanding open nominations for chief executive in the city’s inaugural direct election promised to be held in 2017.
“We admit that we did not have enough discussion with the people before deciding to go ahead with the vote and we apologise to the people,” the organisers said in a statement.
Two student groups – the Hong Kong Federation of Students and Scholarismand the activist group Occupy Central With Peace and Love had called for the referendum on Friday.
Organisers bowed in apology for disappointing supporters of a movement that has come to be known as the “umbrella revolution”, after the umbrellas wielded by demonstrators in the face of police tear gas.
“There have been a lot of conflicts and different opinions,” student leader Alex Chow told reporters.
Organizers refused to be drawn on the nature of the disagreements, but Chow said there had been concerns over how to verify that only protesters took part in the vote, amid worries that opponents might try to hijack the process.
The vote had been due to take place at the three protest camps that have sprung up across Hong Kong. It would have asked demonstrators how to respond to conciliatory measures offered by Hong Kong’s government.
The government made tentative concessions during talks last Tuesday, offering to file a report to Beijing about recent events and suggesting that both sides set up a committee to discuss further political reform beyond 2017.