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Hong Kong is postponing legislative elections over coronavirus concerns



At a press conference, Hong Kong Executive Director Carrie Lam said the move to postpone elections to the Legislative Council, scheduled for September 6, was the most difficult decision she had made in seven months. She added that she had the support of the Chinese central government in taking this decision.

Lam said delays were needed to protect public health and ensure fairness in elections.

Virus infections have risen rapidly in recent weeks after falling to zero daily transmission in June, and health officials have warned of a possible crisis if it does not get under control.

“The new wave of epidemics may last for weeks or even longer. Although previous experiences in April or May, even if the epidemic stabilizes, companies will recover for some time. Experts say that if they do not develop immediately and do not supply effective vaccines, otherwise In this case, it is very likely that there will be a winter outbreak by the end of the year, “said Lam.

Hong Kong CEO Carrie Lam said elections scheduled for September would be postponed due to the coronavirus.

She referred to the colonial-era emergency regulation to postpone local elections.

Under the Basic Law – Hong Kong’s mini-constitution – the terms of the Legislative Council are limited to four years. Lam said she had therefore asked the Central People’s Government for advice on how to deal with the one-year “vacuum.” She said that Beijing would submit a proposal for a decision to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress.

Lam said that although it was not up to her, she believed that the logical solution would be to allow the current legislative council to continue next year.

Some pro-democracy activists, including Joshua Wong, have argued that the government is using the pandemic as an excuse to postpone major elections to Hong Kong indefinitely.

They accused the government of avoiding a possible loss due to the introduction of a new law on national security in China, which prohibits secession, subversion, terrorism and secret agreements with foreign forces.

The Democratic camp in September this year focused on gaining a majority in 70-member opinion polls.

Hong Kong is preparing elections without real opposition

Opposition parties have focused on a wave of dissatisfaction with the government’s historic victory in the semi-democratic legislature, where almost half of the seats are dominated by so-called functional constituencies, which represent business and social groups and are usually for governments,

The recent primary election, which aimed to reduce the number of pro-democracy opposition candidates, attracted more than 600,000 votes, hoped for by more than 170,000 organizers. However, turnout in the Beijing elections was attracted, suggesting that the vote illegally interfered with the forthcoming poll.

Last year, candidates for democracy won the local council election. A similar result in the Legislative Council could allow them to force a constitutional crisis by blocking the budget and urging Lam to step down. Both the Chinese and Hong Kong governments have suggested that such a plan could be illegal under the new National Security Act.

A dozen democracy candidates, including Wong, were banned from running in the election this week.

The Hong Kong government said in a statement that it supported the decisions of returning officials to “revoke 12 candidates for this year’s general election of the Legislative Council (LegCo)”.

She said the candidates had been expelled for non-compliance with the basic law, the de facto Hong Kong Constitution, and suggested that more disqualification be made in the future.

The government said it “respects and protects the legal rights of the people of Hong Kong, including the right to vote and to stand as a candidate.”

Joshua Wong, shown at a press conference on July 31, was one of the pro-democracy candidates unable to vote this week.

Several letters sent online by disqualified candidates for returning officials informing them of their decision cited previous opposition to the security law as the reason for the move.

“The excuse they use is that I describe (the security law) as a draconian law that shows that I do not support this extensive law,” Wong said.

Another disqualified candidate, Dennis Kwok, was reportedly expelled for expressing his intention to use his position as a legislator “in a way that forces the government to comply with certain requirements,” in most cases effectively the work of the opposition legislator. democratic countries.

The Inter-Parliamentary Alliance for China, which represents lawmakers in several countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia and Canada, said disqualification and postponement of elections “are unacceptable obstacles to the democratic process in Hong Kong and further raise concerns about violations of human rights and freedoms in the city.” ‘ ”

This story has been updated with more news.

Journalist Phoebe Lai in Hong Kong contributed news.


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