• Police prepare to clear Hong Kong protest sites

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    HONG KONG: Hong Kong authorities are preparing for the final clearance of the city’s main pro-democracy protest site after more than two months, reports said Tuesday, with an injunction paving the way for bailiffs to swoop.

    A High Court ruling published Tuesday morning called for the clearance of three sections of the main Admiralty protest site, in the heart of Hong Kong’s business district, where a tent city sprawls across a multi-lane highway.

    Student-led demonstrators are demanding free leadership elections for the semi-autonomous Chinese city in 2017 — but China’s communist authorities insist that candidates must be vetted by a loyalist committee.

    The injunction, requested by a local bus company, allows bailiffs to “request the assistance of police” where necessary in order to clear the site next to the government headquarters.

    Although the ruling only covers parts of the Admiralty protest zone, reports Tuesday said that police would this week clear the entire area, as well as a smaller protest site in the shopping district of Causeway Bay.

    A third protest camp in the commercial zone of Mongkok was cleared late last month.

    Police would likely clear Admiralty “including areas that are not covered in the injunction order” an unnamed police source told the South China Morning Post.

    “We aim to clear all occupied roads and reopen traffic,” the source said, adding that the action would take place Thursday.

    Causeway Bay could also be cleared that day, the source said.

    Other local media said that the clearances could start as early as Wednesday.

    Around 7,000 officers would be deployed, with announcements made beforehand to give protesters time to leave, The Standard newspaper said.

    A police spokeswoman told AFP Tuesday morning that there was no further information on any clearance operation.

    Authorities in Hong Kong and Beijing have said throughout that the mass street protests are “illegal” and have made no concessions to the students’ demands for reform.

    AFP

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