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Over 500 protesters have been arrested in Hong Kong during a pro-democracy sit-in at the city’s business district.

The demonstrators were arrested for illegal assembly and obstructing police officers, Hong Kong police said.

The sit-in came after tens of thousands of protesters marched on Tuesday in what was described as the city’s largest democracy rally in a decade.

The annual rally, marking the day Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, was to demand full electoral freedom.

Organizers said turnout at the rally was 510,000, while police said about 98,600 took part during the peak of the march.

After the main march had ended, hundreds of protesters staged a sit-in in the city’s Central district.

Police said the sit-in was “unauthorized” and began removing some of the participants in the early hours of Wednesday.


Over 500 protesters have been arrested during Hong Kong annual rally

Over 500 protesters have been arrested during Hong Kong annual rally

Some demonstrators linked arms in an attempt to stop police from moving them.

Police said a total of 511 demonstrators – 351 men and 160 women – were arrested in the operation to clear the area.

Speaking on Tuesday morning, Hong Kong leader CY Leung said that the government was trying hard to forge a consensus on political reform.

“Only by maintaining Hong Kong’s stability can we sustain our economic prosperity. Only by sustaining Hong Kong’s prosperity can we improve people’s livelihoods,” CY Leung said.

Analysts say Hong Kong faces divided views on the city’s democratic development, and growing tensions between activists and the Chinese government.

Pro-democracy activists want Hong Kong people to be able to elect the city’s leader, known as the chief executive.

China has said it will introduce universal suffrage for the city’s 2017 election – but wants a committee to approve the candidates.

In June, an unofficial referendum on how to choose Hong Kong’s next chief executive drew close to 800,000 votes.

The Hong Kong government said the 10-day referendum had no legal standing. The Chinese government has described the referendum as an “illegal farce”.

Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 following a 1984 agreement between China and Britain.

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Hong Kong activists are organizing the largest pro-democracy protest in more than a decade.

The annual rally, which marks the day Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997, will focus on pressuring Beijing for full electoral freedom, organizers said.

The rally is organized days after an unofficial referendum on how to choose the chief executive drew close to 800,000 votes.

The Hong Kong government said the 10-day poll had no legal standing.

Organizers expect more than half a million people to join the rally, which will kick off in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park at 03:00 and will head to the Central district.

Several campaign groups have also indicated that they will stage peaceful overnight vigils after the march.

More than half a million people are expected to join Hong Kong pro-democracy rally, which will kick off in Victoria Park

More than half a million people are expected to join Hong Kong pro-democracy rally, which will kick off in Victoria Park

The rally in 2003 drew half a million people, who demonstrated against proposed anti-subversion laws which were later scrapped.

Speaking at a ceremony to mark the 17th anniversary of the former British colony’s return to China, Hong Kong leader CY Leung said that the government was trying hard to forge a consensus on political reform.

“Only by maintaining Hong Kong’s stability can we sustain our economic prosperity. Only by sustaining Hong Kong’s prosperity can we improve people’s livelihood,” CY Leung said.

Beijing has said it will hold elections for the role of chief executive in 2017, but the public will only have a choice of candidates selected by a nominating committee.

Campaigners want the public to be able to elect Hong Kong’s leader directly and believe that Beijing will use the committee to screen out candidates it disapproves of.

The unofficial referendum, organized by campaign group Occupy Central, allowed the public to decide which of three proposals – all of which involved allowing citizens to directly nominate candidates – to present to Beijing.

Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 following a 1984 agreement between China and Britain.

China agreed to govern Hong Kong under the principle of “one country, two systems”, where the city would enjoy “a high degree of autonomy, except in foreign and defense affairs” for 50 years.

As a result, Hong Kong has its own legal system, and rights including freedom of assembly and free speech are protected.

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Protesters are gathering in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on the eve of a mass rally to demand the resignation of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi.

As darkness fell, thousands of people could be seen milling in the square, focus of the protests which brought down his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.

Sunday is the first anniversary of Mohamed Morsi’s inauguration as president.

Tensions has been high ahead of rally. At least three people – including a US citizen – died in unrest on Friday.

Washington has warned Americans not to travel to Egypt.

Protesters are unhappy with the policies of the Islamist president and his Muslim Brotherhood allies.

Egyptian protesters are unhappy with the policies of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood allies

Egyptian protesters are unhappy with the policies of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood allies

Thousands of supporters of Mohamed Morsi, who was elected by a small margin, rallied in the capital on Saturday.

President Barack Obama has said America is “looking with concern” at the situation.

Opposition activists say more than 22 million people have signed a petition seeking a snap election. They have urged the signatories to come out on Tahrir on Sunday.

Flags and tents form a base camp on the square from where protesters plan to march President Mohamed Morsi’s office.

Amr Riad, 26, told Reuters news agency: “We’re peaceful but if those who come at us are violent we’ll defend ourselves.”

Speaking in South Africa, Barack Obama urged “all parties to make sure they are not engaging in violence and that police and military are showing appropriate restraint”.

“We would like to see the opposition and President Morsi engage in a more constructive conversation about [how] to move their country forward,” he said.

Reports say that Cairo International Airport has been unusually busy as both expatriates and Egyptians leave the country.

On Friday, US national Andrew Pochter and another man were killed in the northern Egyptian city of Alexandria as protesters stormed an office of the Muslim Brotherhood.

Andrew Pochter, who was in the country to teach English to children and improve his own Arabic, was killed apparently while using a mobile phone to take pictures.

His family said in a statement that he had been stabbed by a protester while observing demonstrations.

The other fatality in Alexandria on Friday was an Egyptian man who was shot dead, according to medical sources.

Another man, said to be a journalist, was killed by an explosion in Port Said and five other people were injured.

President Mohamed Morsi earlier this week offered a dialogue – a move rejected by his opponents.

Mohamed Morsi, who hails from the Muslim Brotherhood, became Egypt’s first Islamist president on 30 June 2012, after winning an election considered free and fair.

His first year as president has been marred by constant political unrest and a sinking economy.

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North Korean people have gathered in Pyongyang for a mass rally to celebrate Wednesday’s long-range rocket launch.

State television showed huge crowds cheering to mark the launch, which has been condemned by many nations as a banned test of missile technology.

South Korea, meanwhile, says its navy has retrieved debris from the rocket and will study it.

The first stage of the rocket fell west of the Korean peninsula. South Korea’s navy located it shortly afterwards.

It was North Korea’s first successful use of a three-stage rocket to put a satellite into orbit. North Korea said on Friday that more launches would go ahead.

The UN Security Council has condemned the launch, calling it a missile test that violated two UN resolutions banning Pyongyang from such activities passed after its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.

The US, South Korea and Japan – who believe North Korea is working to develop long-range missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads – want action such as the strengthening of sanctions.

But China – North Korea’s main ally – says any UN response should be “conducive to peace” and avoid escalating tensions.

North Korean people have gathered in Pyongyang for a mass rally to celebrate Wednesday's long-range rocket launch

North Korean people have gathered in Pyongyang for a mass rally to celebrate Wednesday’s long-range rocket launch

In Pyongyang, state television showed pictures of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in the control room for the launch, and another of him celebrating with members of the military after it successfully went up.

It also broadcast images of ranks of North Koreans massed in central Pyongyang on Friday to listen to congratulatory speeches.

Kim Ki-nam, party secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, told crowds in Kim Il-sung Square that the satellite was “necessary for the building of our national economy”.

“This is an international trend and the justified independent right of our people,” he said.

“Any hostile forces cannot cling to the insistence that our satellite launch is a ballistic missile launch anymore.”

Ro Gwang-chol, vice-chief of the general staff of the army, said that every soldier in the North celebrated the moment and “have been full of delight and strong emotions”.

There was also much praise for the leader.

“This was achieved thanks to the Great Marshall Kim Jong-un’s endless loyalty, bravery and wisdom,” said Jang Chol, president of the State Academy of Sciences.

The rocket was launched from the North Korean coast early on Wednesday. South Korea says a fuel container was found where the first stage of the rocket separated.

“The Navy’s Deep Submergence Rescue Vehicle retrieved the debris of the rocket’s first stage at 00:26 and was delivering it to the Second Command Fleet in Pyeongtaek,” Yonhap news agency quoted a defence ministry official as saying.

It would be “useful material for analysis”, another ministry spokesman said.

On Friday a statement from North Korea’s KCNA news agency said Kim Jong-un had called for more such launches.

North Korea “showed at home and abroad the unshakable stand… to exercise the country’s legitimate right to use space for peaceful purposes”, the KCNA statement quoted him as saying.

The US, meanwhile, said it was holding talks with key players on how to respond to the launch.

“We are working with both our six party partners and with our UN Security Council partners – China is in both of those categories – on a clear and credible response to what the North Koreans have done,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

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