Hong Kong executive leader Carrie Lam announced on Friday that the Hong Kong elections, scheduled for September 6, will be postponed for at least a year because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The decision comes a day after some of the most prominent leaders of the pro-democracy movement were barred from running because they criticized Hong Kong’s national security law, which was forcibly imposed by Mainland Chinese authorities.
“We have been fighting the pandemic for seven months. This pandemic has been a major blow to our economy,” Carrie told a news conference. “We have not been complacent. We need to be on high alert at all times and respond [à crise]… The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) recently said that sometimes we need to make some difficult choices, and my decision today is the most difficult of all “.
Hong Kong is experiencing a third Covid-19 outbreak. For more than 10 it is registering more than 100 cases daily. This Friday there were 121 and two deaths. Health officials are investigating potential new outbreaks of transmission in the city and Lam said the city was on the verge of a “large-scale outbreak” that could cause hospitals to collapse.
Although this was the official reason for the postponement of the elections, it is likely that the pro-Beijing Hong Kong government made this decision to weaken the pro-democracy movement.
Carrie Lam said she was using an Emergency Regulations Ordinance to postpone the elections in Hong Kong and that Beijing is also in favor of the decision. However, the opposition pointed out that the postponement violates the city’s constitution.
“According to Legco’s ordinance [Conselho Legislativo de Hong Kong], elections can only be postponed for 14 days, “22 pro-Democratic lawmakers said in a statement released before Carrie Lam announced his decision.” Postpone [além disso] is to trigger a constitutional crisis in the city, “they said, according to the South China Morning Post.