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Power of the people: Hong Kong leader finally withdraws bill

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam has backed down after months of protests that brought the island city to a standstill.

She has agreed withdraw the controversial extradition bill which triggered months of protests.

But demonstrators are saying her latest actions are too little too late.

The proposal, introduced in April, would have allowed criminal suspects to be extradited to mainland China.

The bill was suspended in June when Ms Lam called it “dead”, but she stopped short of withdrawing it.

Full withdrawal is one of five key demands of protesters, who are also calling for full democratic rights.

On Monday, Ms Lam was heard on leaked audio tapes blaming herself for igniting Hong Kong’s political crisis, and saying it was unforgiveable of her to have caused such huge havoc.

The extradition bill quickly drew criticism after being unveiled in April. Opponents said it would undermine Hong Kong’s legal freedoms and might be used to intimidate or silence critics of Beijing.

Hong Kong protesters

Hong Kong is now in its 14th successive week of demonstrations, and saw fresh violence between police and activists last weekend.

Finally, she is officially withdrawing the bill, but demonstrators now say they will not stop holding rallies without a genuinely independent inquiry into the Hong Kong police force and universal suffrage in this region.

Ahead of Ms Lam’s announcement, leading pro-democracy activist Joshua Wong said the withdrawal of the bill would be “too little too late”.

In a series of tweets he said all the protesters’ demands had to be met.

Demonstrators also want an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality; an amnesty for those arrested and greater political reforms. They also demand that officials stop describing the protests as riots.

Hong Kong was handed back to China in 1997 after more than 150 years of British rule. It has remained semi-autonomous under a “one country, two systems” principle but some fear China is seeking greater control.

There had been widespread speculation that Carrie Lam did not have the authority to adhere to this or any of the protesters’ demands because Beijing has really been calling the shots.

Political watchers say it is possible that she has been given the green light to pull the bill to try to show that Hong Kong’s autonomous decision-making is still intact.

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