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Hong Kong protesters back on streets

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Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protesters have returned to the streets for their first big rally since mass protests last year.

A large police presence was in force to deter protesters from reoccupying key areas of Hong Kong.

Protesters were not reported to be planning a repeat of the occupations that shut down parts of the city.

Last year’s Occupy demonstrations called for fully democratic elections for the territory’s chief executive.

China has promised the semi-autonomous territory direct elections in 2017, but ruled that candidates had to be vetted by Beijing.

Initial estimates suggested around 3,000 protesters marched through the city’s upmarket shopping and financial districts, watched by about 2,000 police officers.

Photo Reuters

Photo Reuters

Many demonstrators carried yellow umbrellas – the symbol of the political campaign.

Tens of thousands of demonstrators had taken to the streets in September last year, demanding political change.

There were violent clashes with police, and the final protest camp was dismantled in December.

One organizer of the latest march, Daisy Chan, told the AFP news agency it would show that last year’s demonstrations were a watershed for Hong Kong.

Before the march police had been wary of reports that there were no plans for protesters to reoccupy public areas, issuing a statement saying: “It is believed that those supporting the illegal occupation are likely to seize the opportunity to reoccupy roads which have been now reopened to traffic.”