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Hong Kong set to hold controversial referendum

Hong Kong is set to hold a controversial referendum on democracy on Friday, June 20, a move that will likely further anger China's Communist Party leaders.

HONG KONG: Hong Kong is set to hold a controversial referendum on democracy on Friday, June 20.

The unofficial referendum will be asking Hong Kong residents to vote on electoral reform.

This latest move by democracy activists in the city will likely further anger China's Communist Party leaders.

Last week, Beijing had published its first policy document on Hong Kong, seen as reasserting its control over the territory.

The electronic vote - a mock referendum for proposed electoral arrangements in the 2017 chief executive elections - was originally scheduled for June 20 to June 22. It has now been extended until June 29 because the electronic voting platform has been hijacked.

The platform was launched last week to register voters and had received more than 10 billion inquiries in 20 hours, causing servers to crash.

Organisers of the referendum are confident the system will be up and running by Friday afternoon when voting starts.

And if that fails, physical voting booths will be available over the next two Sundays for paper voting.

Benny Tai, co-founder of the Occupy Central Protest Movement, said: "They told me that the scale of attack is unprecedented in Hong Kong."

He added that IT experts had told him that the attack could not have been organised within the last few days.

Hong Kong is in the midst of a heated debate on political reforms, relating to the method for electing Hong Kong's next leader in 2017.

All three reform proposals that are being put to vote call for letting the public nominate candidates for the chief executive elections - an idea that the Hong Kong and central governments have ruled out.

Organisers are expecting up to 300,000 voters which will send a signal to Beijing and strengthen the legitimacy of the demands for a fair and representative election in 2017.

Pro-democracy supporters have been participating in a daily 10-kilometre walk across Hong Kong to promote the unofficial referendum.

As a last resort, a mass sit-in involving thousands of protesters has been planned in Hong Kong's financial district later this summer to draw attention to their cause.

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