HK leader Leung to step down for family reasons
Hong Kong's divisive leader Leung Chun Ying will not run for office again
HONG KONG Hong Kong's unpopular leader Leung Chun Ying, 62, who has been vilified by critics as a puppet of Beijing, said yesterday he would not run for office again.
The Chief Executive's term was marked by anti-China protests and political divisions.
Mr Leung said he would step down at the end of his term in July for family reasons after speculation intensified in recent weeks over who would get the nod from Beijing for leadership elections in March.
He told reporters: "The central authorities including the top leaders in the country have been very supportive of my work all these years.
"I've already reported my decision to the central government, and the central government has expressed understanding."
Mr Leung said he was stepping down out of "responsibility as a father and a husband", and it was not to do with his performance as a leader.
Reports in local media have said that his daughter Leung Chai Yan, 25, has been in hospital for more than a month, although the reasons are unclear.
Mr Leung said he did not want to give further details of his family situation.
His daughter hit the headlines last year after slapping her mother Regina Tong in front of revellers in Hong Kong's Lan Kwai Fong bar district after a Halloween party.
She has also publicly criticised her mother and in last year announced that she was leaving home because of explosive rows with her parents.
Mr Leung took office in 2012 as concerns were growing that Beijing was tightening its grip on the semi-autonomous city, and his opponents have slammed him as a hardline leader overseeing the erosion of Hong Kong's freedoms.
I’ve already reported my decision to the central government, and the central government has expressed understanding.Mr Leung Chun Ying
His term has been one of political crises in Hong Kong with massive pro-democracy rallies in 2014 bringing tens of thousands onto the streets calling for reform and for him to step down.
The failure of the protests to win any concessions from Mr Leung and Beijing left the city starkly divided between pro-establishment and pro-democracy camps.
It also sparked an independence movement calling for the city to break entirely from Beijing.
Last month, two democratically elected lawmakers who support a split from China were barred from taking up their seats after an intervention from Beijing.
A group of more moderate pro-democracy lawmakers are facing a court case brought by the government which is also seeking to remove them from the legislature. - AFP