Hong Kong: In the wake of further violent clashes, Hong Kong's chief executive Leung Chun-ying Saturday said the streets must be cleared of the pro-democracy protests by Monday, the Guardian reported.
Leung said it in a TV address as legislators suggested government might act to clear streets no later than Sunday.
Hours after he spoke, however, tens of thousands of people flooded into the Admiralty area of the city centre in the biggest gathering for days.
The Saturday night rally was called to oppose attacks on protesters by opponents of the movement Friday, and came six days after police used pepper spray and teargas in failed attempts to disperse the crowds.
"Even after all these incidents, it shows that the more they suppress us, the more we will fight," a student leader told the gathering. The crowd chanted for democracy and roared the unofficial anthem of the movement by the band Beyond.
Hong Kong’s chief executive has refused demands of his stepping down. He had earlier said in a televised address it was urgent that all entrances to government headquarters were clear by Monday so staff could work, and roads unblocked so schools could reopen.
He said if the conflict between pro-democracy and anti-Occupy Central groups continued, it would be “very likely to keep going out of hand” and called on citizens to keep calm and avoid violence.
Protest leaders called off talks with the government after the attacks Friday night.
They blamed police of doing nothing as men trying to remove protesters hit, punched and sexually assaulted them. Over 50 people were injured, officials said.
“I am aware that people have said the government has turned a blind eye towards the triads, or even was co-operating with triads. These accusations are invented and very excessive," said Public broadcaster RTHK reported security secretary Lai Tung-kwok as saying.
The police had “faithfully, truthfully” enforced the law, he added.
Earlier in the day, he said 19 people were arrested Friday when clashes broke out between Occupy Central protesters and anti-Occupy people, Xinhua reported.
There clashes occurred in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay, two major commercial areas of Hong Kong, from Friday afternoon to early Saturday morning, leaving some citizens and police officers injured.