Pressure builds on Hong Kong leader Lam after mass protest

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s political crisis enters its second week on Monday as uncertainty mounts over the fate of government leader Carrie Lam and an extradition bill she postponed at the weekend.

A helmet and messages of support for the protest against a proposed extradition bill, are seen displayed early morning in Hong Kong, China June 17, 2019. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

Organizers said almost 2 million protesters turned out on Sunday to demand that Lam step down in what is becoming the most significant challenge to China’s relationship with the territory since it was handed back by Britain 22 years ago.

“Her government cannot be an effective government, and will have much, much, much difficulties to carry on,” veteran Democratic Party legislator James To told government-funded broadcaster RTHK.

“I believe the central people’s government will accept her resignation.”

Opposition politicians are echoing marchers’ calls for both Lam and the law to go, even though she apologized for how her government handled the draft bill, which would allow suspects to be sent to mainland China for trial for the first time.

While Lam delayed the bill, it has yet to be completely shelved despite broad local and international concern.

“We cannot accept her apology, it doesn’t remove all our threats,” said social worker Brian Chau, who was among several hundred protesters who stayed overnight in the Admiralty district around the government headquarters and legislature.

Some cleared away rubbish left after the vast but peaceful march, while others sang ‘Hallelujah’, a gospel song that has become of a feature of Hong Kong’s protests against Lam.

A smattering of uniformed police stood by, without riot equipment, in a contrast to the recent violent skirmishes between police and protesters.

The headquarters will remain closed on Monday, the government said.

Reporting by Marius Zaharia, John Ruwitch, Farah Master and Greg Torode; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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