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Hong Kong selects Leung as next leader amid protests

HONG KONG (Reuters) - A Hong Kong election committee chose Leung Chun-ying, widely seen as Beijing's preferred choice, as its next leader on Sunday following a campaign marred by scandals that created a tide of public discontent and brought street protests.

Leung, a self-made Hong Kong-born surveyor with deep China connections and a reputation as a tough political operator, secured 689 votes to beat main rival Henry Tang, the affluent scion of an industrialist and a former civil service chief.

Of 1,132 votes cast, Tang got 285, while 76 people voted for the Democratic Party's Albert Ho.

Initially considered the underdog to become Hong Kong's chief executive, Leung staged a late charge as early front runner Tang's campaign suffered from a string of scandals including allegations of an illegitimate child, a love affair and illegal construction at his family villa.

Hong Kong's seven million people have no say in who becomes chief executive.

Instead, an election committee filled with business professionals, tycoons and Beijing loyalists, selected Leung as successor to the bow tie-wearing Donald Tsang, who has served two terms and cannot stand again.

About 1,000 protesters, some who camped out overnight, gathered outside the election venue at a harbor-front convention centre to show their anger at being denied a voice.

(Reporting By James Pomfret; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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