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HK leader commits to creating platform for dialogue
Hong Kong, Aug 20 (IANS) Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Tuesday said she was willing to create a platform for dialogue, but will not sanction an independent investigation into police actions during the political crisis that has rocked the city for almost three months.
Lam said her administration would immediately work on setting up a means of finding a solution to the civil unrest triggered by her now-shelved extradition bill, which would would have allowed criminal suspects to be sent to mainland China, the South China Morning Post reported.
But Lam again said the Independent Police Complaints Council was capable of dealing with alleged police misconduct and dismissed calls for an independent inquiry.
"All my principal officials and I are committed to listening to what the people have to tell us," she said on Tuesday morning.
"I think it is a very sincere expression for my hope to sincerely dialogue with various sectors of the society."
Lam said she would start with approaching people who in the past had proposed talks, and her remarks came two days after hundreds of thousands of protesters took to the streets in a peaceful mass demonstration that passed without any violence or clashes with the police.
She once again ruled out a full withdrawal of the extradition bill, but said there was "no plan to revive this bill, especially in light of the public’s concern".
Aside from the full withdrawal of the bill, and an independent inquiry, protesters have also called for Lam to resign, for the government to retract its characterisation of the violent clashes as "riots", and for everyone arrested in connection with the clashes to be freed unconditionally.
The mass protests and strikes that have been sweeping over the city for the past few months first sparked in March, prompted by the extradition bill, Efe news reported.
Though the protesters initially held sporadic and peaceful marches across the city’s downtown, the demonstrations – generally held on weekend days – grew exponentially in June.
There have been occasional bursts of violence as the more militant protesters clashed with police clad in riot gear in the weekend protests.