By Helene Fung
Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Carrie Lam, announced on Friday night that the Legislative Council elections originally planned for September 2020 will be postponed for a year to September 2021, citing worsening COVID-19 outbreak as the reason.
Ms Lam called the decision, made under the authority of a colonial-era emergency ordinance, “the most difficult decision in the past seven months”.
Ms Lam also said that China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee will be asked to make a decision on how to fill the vacuum that the postponement will create, possibly by extending the term of sitting legislators.
Twenty-two incumbent legislators from the Pan-Democrats, a de facto opposition coalition of pro-democracy political parties, issued a statement accusing the Hong Kong Government of making a political rather than health-based decision to delay the elections, merely using COVID-19 as an excuse.
Hong Kong has seen a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in the past month. On Friday 31 July authorities recorded 3,273 infections, more than doubling the total on 1 July.
The lead-up to the elections has been closely watched world-wide, after a national security law enacted late June bars candidates who violate the law from running.
Twelve pro-democracy candidates have been disqualified from running in the elections on Thursday, for reasons ranging from failing to comply with Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, to failing to pledge allegiance to the local and national governments.