Dozens of Hong Kong police were massing early Monday at protest sites where pro-democracy demonstrators have been holding more than two weeks of rallies, paralysing parts of the Asian financial hub.
The police, who were dressed in high visibility jackets but not wearing riot gear, removed at least one barricade from the main protest site in Admiralty, in Hong Kong s busy Central district, an AFP photographer at the scene said.
Police were also gathering at a secondary site in Mongkok, according to television reports.
Demonstrators calling for Beijing to grant full democracy to the former British colony have brought parts of Hong Kong to a standstill over the last fortnight, prompting clashes with elements who oppose the blockades and widespread disruption.
Despite repeated orders to disperse, the rallies have taken on an air of permanence, with tents, portable showers and lecture venues -- drawing thousands of people in recent evenings.
On Sunday, the city s embattled leader Leung Chun-ying said the protesters had almost zero chance of changing Beijing s stance and securing free elections.
After police were criticised for unleashing tear gas on the rallies in late September, the city s chief executive said that if the government had to clear the protests sites, police would use a minimum amount of force .