Tung's successor will serve only two years; Election for CE to be held on July 10; New boss not saying if he'll run Donald Tsang Yam-kuen last night made a plea for unity as he took over as acting chief executive and inherited his predecessor's cabinet. After the central government formally accepted Tung Chee-hwa's resignation in Beijing, Mr Tsang announced the existing team of senior officials would remain, despite fears the caretaker government will face a policy standstill due to internal rivalry. Concerns have also emerged over possible legal and political battles over the length of term for the next chief executive, which the Hong Kong government set at two years - the remainder of Mr Tung's second term. Despite Mr Tsang's insistence that his team would remain focused on their jobs, it emerged yesterday that Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen looks set to run for the top post in 2007. Flanked by all members of the cabinet, except four pro-Beijing members, Mr Tsang also announced that the new chief executive will only serve until June 30, 2007, a move later backed in a statement released by the National People's Congress Legislative Affairs Commission. Observers expect stormy months ahead before the chief executive election on July 10, at which the 800-member Election Committee will choose Hong Kong's next leader. While making no effort to dismiss speculation that he will run in the election, Mr Tsang said his top priority was to maintain stability in Hong Kong during this transition period. 'I hope that all of us will remain positive when facing these changes; cherish the upturn in our economy; and, unite to ensure the continued development of Hong Kong,' Mr Tsang said. 'When I have come up with any decisions, I will definitely tell the public,' he said when asked if he would run on July 10. Despite criticism in some quarters of his connections to the colonial era, Mr Tsang said he would never relinquish his British knighthood because it was a reward for his 30-year service in the colonial government. 'There exists no question over allegiance,' he said. Mr Tsang said the government had come to the conclusion, after consulting mainland legal experts, that the new chief executive should only serve out the remainder of Mr Tung's term. He dismissed concerns that the decision would result in grave damage to Hong Kong's autonomy. He said any legal challenge would be met and did not rule out an ultimate interpretation of the Basic Law by Beijing. 'This is in total respect to our own legal system and our law. If there is any challenge at all, we will meet that challenge. In the meantime, we will ensure the election we are going to hold will not be disrupted,' he said. The government will immediately start preparations to host by-elections to fill the 33 vacancies in the Election Committee, which will be held in May. The government will table a bill in Legco, seeking to amend the Chief Executive Ordinance and reflect its latest stance. Mr Tsang also said he would front a Legco meeting on Tuesday where democrats are expected to quiz him about the circumstances surrounding Mr Tung's resignation This controversy over the term of the next chief executive will not be the only problem Mr Tsang faces. Speaking in Beijing, Liberal Party chairman James Tien Pei-chun said Mr Tang told him he has the intention to stand in the 2007 election. 'We discussed the topic several days ago. But he felt he would be better prepared [for running in the chief executive election] in 2007,' Mr Tien said. When asked whether he would be tough enough to reign in his colleagues as the first among equals in the next four months, Mr Tsang said his duty as the caretaker would be to ensure a smooth transition and said cabinet members promised to help. Lee Wing-tat, chairman of the Democrats, said Mr Tsang had failed Hong Kong by damaging the rule of law over the two-year decision. Ivan Choy Chi-keung, a political analyst at City University, said the fact four leading pro-Beijing members did not attend the press conference confirmed their long-standing distrust of Mr Tsang.