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Government responds to today's public meeting and procession

In response to the public meeting and procession today (January 1), a Government spokesman said that the Central Authorities and the HKSAR Government were firmly committed to achieving universal suffrage according to the Basic Law.

He said, "It is the Basic Law which sets out, for the first time in the history of Hong Kong, the ultimate aim of universal suffrage. Constitutional development in Hong Kong, as is the case in other places in which universal suffrage has been implemented successfully, must be an evolutionary process.

"An orderly evolution in the light of the actual situation is the only way to guarantee long term stability and meaningful universal suffrage. This is also the essence of the Basic Law provisions.

"The present is grounded in the past. The formation of the Election Committee and the election of the Chief Executive (CE) must be appreciated in its historical context. They represent a significant stride forward. Our mission now is to forge the future on the basis of where we are now.

"We are now exploring, through discussion at the Commission on Strategic Development and the Legislative Council (LegCo), the issue of possible models for implementing universal suffrage for the CE and LegCo.

"We hope that this can help promote discussion within the community, with a view to narrowing differences and forging broad consensus," he said.

The spokesman said that the Commission was now having substantive discussion on possible models for selecting the CE and for forming the LegCo by universal suffrage.

"We aim to publish a report to draw conclusions on the discussion of the Commission this year, and to submit the report to the Central Authorities.

"The report will provide a basis for the third term Government to continue to take forward Hong Kong’s further democratisation."

He added that Hong Kong's elections had a fine tradition of being open, fair and clean. The CE election in March 2007 would be held in accordance with the Basic Law and the relevant electoral legislation, and in an open and fair manner.

Ends/Monday, January 1, 2007