Sydney: Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Hong Kong, calling for its embattled leader to quit and demanded greater democracy 15 years after the former British territory returned to Chinese rule.
Organisers said they expected 50,000 people to join the New Year’s Day march against Leung Chun-ying.
Pro-government groups staged separate and smaller rallies in support of the Beijing-backed chief executive, the Herald Sun reports.
Since taking office in July, Leung’s popularity has tumbled and he has faced a no-confidence vote in the legislature amid a row over illegal structures at his luxury home, which is a politically sensitive issue in the city.
According to the report, as the demonstrators set off from a park to march to the governments harbour-front headquarters, 27-year-old university student Billy Li said that they have kept voicing their concerns, but the situation is still getting worse.
Holding posters of Leung portrayed as a vampire and a wolf, the protesters, some waving flags from the British colonial era, chanted ‘Give us universal suffrage immediately’ and ‘Step down, Leung Chun-ying’.
Leung has acknowledged and apologised for the structures, which were built without planning permission and include a wooden trellis and a glass enclosure, the report said.
Thousands of Leung`s supporters chanted ‘Support CY (Leung), support the government’ at a separate rally earlier, the report added.