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Tens of Thousands Demand Full Democracy in Hong Kong

Pro-democracy protesters march in the streets to demand universal suffrage and urge Hong Kong's Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying to step down in Hong Kong, July 1, 2013.
Tens of thousands of Hong Kong residents have joined a march to demand full democracy on the 16th anniversary of the territory's return to Chinese sovereignty.

The demonstrators braved heavy rain from a tropical storm as the annual July 1st march began at the city's Victoria Park and progressed to the Central business district.

Many protesters chanted slogans calling for the city's unelected leader Leung Chun-ying to step down and for the government to ensure a free and fair election for his chief executive post in 2017.

Leung took office on July 1 last year after being selected by a committee dominated by Hong Kong's pro-government establishment and Beijing loyalists.

Since then his popularity has slumped because of scandals involving his Cabinet and conduct before taking office, and public anger about high property prices and a growing influx of mainland Chinese into the city.

China has agreed to let Hong Kong citizens directly elect their chief executive when Leung's term expires in 2017.

But, the protesters who marched on Monday fear Beijing will block pro-democracy candidates from running. Some waved Hong Kong's former British colonial flag as a sign of protest.

Earlier Monday, Leung repeated a pledge to begin a public consultation about electoral arrangements for 2017 at an "appropriate time." He made the comment in a traditional speech celebrating the 1997 anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from Britain to China.