Page last updated at 06:03 GMT, Wednesday, 17 June 2009 07:03 UK

One candidate for Macau top job

Chinese flag at Macau's St Paul's Cathedral, May 08
Macau has proved more pliant to Chinese requests than Hong Kong

Only one candidate appears to be in the running to become Macau's new chief executive - former Social and Cultural Affairs Secretary Fernando Chui.

Mr Chui has secured support from 286 of the 300 member nomination committee.

This means he will succeed Edmund Ho in December as the second chief executive since Macau's return to Chinese rule.

Macau, a former Portuguese colony, has autonomy under Chinese rule similar to neighbour Hong Kong, although Hong Kong has a stronger democratic movement.

Mr Chui's overwhelming support means no one else can gather enough nominations to challenge him.

Small circle

Macau electoral rules still require a ballot even if there is only one candidate.

The vote is scheduled for 26 July, and Mr Chui only needs 151 votes in the election to become leader.

Mr Chui is a member of one of the leading, richest families in Macau. His brother is a lawmaker and a member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

Analysts say Beijing will be pleased with the nomination of their favoured candidate, and with the smoothness of the process which has excluded any chance of a contest.

Critics have warned of collusion and a lack of citizens' participation.

Chief prosecutor Ho Chio-meng, once seen as Mr Chui's only possible threat in the race, decided against running last week.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper reported that Mr Chui said he had held meetings with various social groups and would also hold public meetings to let ordinary people voice their concerns.

Earlier this year, a new state security law took effect in Macau to punish crimes of treason, secession or subversion against the Chinese government.

Democrat legislators said the law is intended by China to set an example for less pliant Hong Kong.

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