HONG KONG, Feb. 2 (UPI) -- Demonstrations resumed in Hong Kong with a pro-democracy march through downtown and protesters calling for election reform.
An estimated 13,000 people attended the peaceful rally Sunday. The number was lower than the organizers' anticipated figure of 50,000. A more diverse group of people walked the streets than previous, student-driven calls to keep Hong Kong's government, and its electoral process, separate from the demands of the national government in Beijing.
They walked behind a banner in the lead, reading "Reject fake democracy. We want real universal suffrage." Some carried Hong Kong flags from the era of British colonialism, which ended in 1997. Demonstrators said they were reminders Hong Kong was not like the rest of China, and should maintain a special status.
The march was the first since the protest sites of the Occupy Central movement were cleared by police in December. The earlier protests were meant to call attention to the need for free elections in Hong Kong, and objection to interference from the Beijing government, which said it will hold candidates for the city's 2017 chief executive to scrutiny and approval. The city government noted Sunday that a two-month public consultation, to gauge public opinion on the election process, was underway. Legislative councilor Albert Ho, a leader in the opposition movement, said Beijing has largely been silent on the issue, and that Hong Kong's government has offered few gestures of sincerity toward the protesters and their grievances.