Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is set to announce the formal withdrawal of a controversial extradition bill that sparked months of protests, according to local media reports.
Citing unnamed sources, the South China Morning Post and HK01 reported that the Beijing-backed chief executive was planning to announce later on Wednesday the scrapping of the bill – one of the main demands of the pro-democracy movement in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.
“A government source said that Lam will emphasise that the removal of the bill was to streamline the legislative agenda, with the Legislative Council set to reopen in October after its summer break and hence it was a technical procedure,” the South China Morning Post wrote.
The reports came a day after Reuters News Agency reported that Lam told a closed-door meeting last week that she had caused “unforgivable havoc” by igniting the political crisis engulfing the city and would quit if she had a choice.
“If I have a choice,” she said, according to an audio recording obtained by Reuters. “The first thing is to quit, having made a deep apology.”
Hong Kong has been rocked by mass demonstrations since June, in response to the proposed law by Lam’s administration which would have allowed suspects to be extradited to mainland China.
Although the Hong Kong government later suspended the legislation amid the mass protests against it, with Lam declaring it “dead”, it has so far refused to officially retract it.
The upheaval has since continued, with scores of people arrested amid sometimes violent protests.
Aside from the complete withdrawal of the extradition bill, the protesters’ demands include an independent inquiry into alleged police brutality and Lam’s resignation, as well as her to stop describing the protests as “rioting” and for her to issue a waiver of charges against those who were arrested.