Hong Kong protesters scuffle with police overnight

Pro-democracy protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks walk past policemen on a road occupied by protesters as part of the Occupy Central civil disobedience movement at Mong Kok shopping district 5 November 2014, the day marking Guy Fawkes Night Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Groups of protesters wearing Guy Fawkes masks appeared at Mong Kok and Admiralty late Wednesday night

Protesters in Hong Kong have scuffled with police in the first increase in tensions for more than a fortnight.

The clashes took place in the Mong Kong area after dozens of people wearing Guy Fawkes masks staged a march.

Activists are angry about a decision by China to screen candidates for Hong Kong's 2017 leadership election.

A top Hong Kong adviser has suggested that student activists, who have called for direct dialogue with Beijing, be given a say in the screening process.

The latest bout of clashes with police which happened after midnight on Thursday. Protesters gathered on a pavement near the Mong Kok protest site and scuffled with officers trying to push them back.

At least three people were arrested, said local media.

Earlier, scores of people wearing Guy Fawkes masks - a symbol use by anarchist and anti-capitalist protests around the world - had turned up at both the Mong Kok and Admiralty protest sites chanting in support of "genuine suffrage", reported the South China Morning Post.

Student representation

Hong Kong activists have occupied key spots in the city for more than a month calling for full democracy, attracting tens of thousands at the height of protests. Numbers have dwindled to just a few hundred.

China insists that candidates for the upcoming 2017 chief executive election be handpicked by a nominating committee.

Student activists are expected to announce on Thursday their plans on approaching Beijing for a dialogue. The Hong Kong Federation of Students are mulling the idea of sending leaders to the capital.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Former security chief Regina Ip has suggested that students have greater say in the city's chief executives

On Wednesday, Regina Ip, a former security chief and top adviser to Hong Kong's chief executive CY Leung, suggested that the federation be given seats on the nominating committee.

But the federation's deputy secretary general Lester Shum said there was little room for negotiation in their key demand - which is for direct nomination of candidates by the public - and that the proposal would be likely vetoed by lawmakers anyway, reported the Post.

Meanwhile several members of Hong Kong's Legislative Council, popularly known as Legco, have called for an investigation into Mr Leung's dealings with an Australian company.

Mr Leung is alleged to have received £4m ($6.4m) from engineering firm UGL. The payments relate to a deal struck between Mr Leung and UGL in late 2011 when the company was acquiring DTZ Holdings, a firm of which Mr Leung was a director.

The payments were not declared when he became chief executive, but his office have denied wrongdoing, while UGL said it was not obliged to reveal the deal.

The motion on Wednesday was backed by about 20 out of 70 democratic members of the council, which acts as the city's parliament.

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