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Last Updated: Sunday, 29 August, 2004, 07:04 GMT 08:04 UK
Macau's leader wins second term
Macau's leader Edmund Ho
Ho has overseen a boom in Macau
Macau's leader Edmund Ho has won the approval of the Chinese enclave's elite to rule for a second five-year term.

Mr Ho won 296 out of 300 possible votes from the Beijing-approved committee of politicians and businessmen.

He told correspondents he would continue to focus on the gambling haven's booming economy.

Mr Ho - who has ruled Macau since 1999, when Portugal handed the territory back to China - is credited with opening up the lucrative casino industry.

"My priority is to maintain the existing economic policy," Mr Ho said. "All the major effort will be spent consolidating and working on improving the quality of life in Macau."

'People love him'

Mr Ho's victory was widely regarded as a foregone conclusion.

"It would be difficult for anyone to replace him anyway because the people here love him," said Au Kam Sam, one of only two Macau legislators to have opposed Mr Ho's policies.

Macau's pro-democracy movement, which holds two of the local legislature's 27 seats, boycotted the poll, arguing that the process was "too conservative and oligarchic".

The Macau leader nonetheless visited community centres, factories and businesses ahead of the vote.

The result showed that one elector was absent, while three others returned blank ballots.

Macau casino owner Stanley Ho (no relation), said everyone "should be very happy" with Mr Ho's reappointment.

"In fact, he has promised that he will ask everyone to unite and help each other and take the opportunity now to develop Macau even better," he told Hong Kong's RTHK radio.

Election regulations do not permit Mr Ho, 49, to stand for a third term.

Semi-independent Macau's 450,000-strong population enjoy greater freedom than people elsewhere in China.

The enclave's economy grew 25% in the first quarter of this year.

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20 Dec 99  |  Asia-Pacific

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