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Hong Kong lawmaker oath standoff sparks more chaos

Newly elected Hong Kong lawmakers Yau Wai-ching, center left, and Sixtus Leung, center right, are surrounded by photographers outside the legislature council in Hong Kong, Wednesday, Nov. 2, 2016. The newly elected pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmakers barred for insulting China in their swearing-in ceremony have set off another round of disorder by scuffling with guards as they tried to retake their oaths in the chamber.

HONG KONG — Two newly elected pro-democracy Hong Kong lawmakers barred from the legislature for insulting China in their swearing-in ceremony set off another round of disorder in the chamber by scuffling with guards Wednesday as they tried again to take their oaths.

The weekly Legislative Council meeting had begun minutes before Yau Wai-ching and Sixtus Leung rushed into the chamber. They were defying an order by the council’s president preventing their entry until a court settles a legal challenge filed by the government aimed at denying them another chance to be sworn in.

The two, who are from the Youngspiration party, were disqualified last month after they inserted a derogatory term for China into their oaths. Yau also used an expletive.

Yau, 25, and Leung, 30, were part of a new wave of youthful pro-democracy lawmakers elected in September amid a rising tide of anti-China sentiment, with many Hong Kong residents concerned about Beijing eroding the city’s wide autonomy.

Their case is due in court Thursday, the same day that local media reports say Beijing officials will meet to discuss reinterpreting Hong Kong’s constitution as a way to resolve the crisis. The move has raised fears that Beijing is interfering in the semiautonomous Chinese-controlled city’s rule of law by bypassing its courts.

As Yau reached the center of the room, she pulled out a small microphone and speaker and recited the oath, which calls for pledging allegiance to “the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.”

Security guards tried to throw Yau and Leung out, but other pro-democracy lawmakers rushed to their defense.

The groups scuffled . Yau was ejected and the council president then adjourned the meeting as guards grappled with Leung and his supporters, who also argued with pro-Beijing loyalists at their desks.

It was the third straight week that a council session had been tossed into chaos over the matter.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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