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(Update) HK postpones Legco elections for a year, citing Covid-19 concerns

2020/7/31 — 17:37

(Update) Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has invoked emergency powers to postpone the 2020 Legislative Council elections, due to health risks from the resurgence of severity of the coronavirus outbreak.

At a press conference held at 6pm on Friday (31/7), the city’s leader said the Legco elections originally scheduled for September 6 this year will be postponed, invoking the Emergency Regulations Ordinance.

The upcoming Legco elections will be delayed by a year to September 5, 2021, Lam said.  

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Lam used the same colonial-era emergency law to impose a ban on masks last year, when Hong Kong was gripped by a series of anti-extradition bill protests.

The chief executive said she often had to make some difficult decisions in these seven months of fighting the coronavirus pandemic, and that the move to postpone the Legco elections was the most difficult decision she had made over the past seven months.

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Local media reports on Friday (31/7) quoted sources as saying that the upcoming Legislative Council elections would be postponed; several other media outlets earlier this week cited sources as revealing the same decision. 

In a press briefing to be held on Friday evening, the government is reportedly expected to announce the decision of the postponement of the Legco elections originally scheduled for September.

A total of 12 Hong Kong pro-democracy election hopefuls, including secretary general of now-disbanded Demosistō Joshua Wong Chi-fung and other well-known names, on Thursday (30/7) were disqualified from running in the upcoming Legco elections.

The nomination period for the upcoming Legco race closed at 5pm Friday.

In a joint statement, 22 pan-democratic lawmakers expressed their opposition to the postponement of the Legco elections.

The lawmakers said the administration is obligated to make arrangements of adopting anti-epidemic measures to allow the Legco race to be held as scheduled.

According to the Basic Law and the Legislative Council Ordinance, the Legco’s term of office is four years and the Legco election can be postponed 14 days, the pro-democracy legislators said.

The lawmakers said the power of the Legco is granted by the Hong Kong people, and that the chief executive is accountable to the Legco, adding the postponement of the Legco race is tantamount to triggering a constitutional crisis.

If the National People’s Congress intervened to allow for the postponement of the Legco elections, such a move would bring about a complete collapse of the city’s constitutional system, the joint statement said.

According to the statement, the four-year term of office of the Legco is confirmed before the establishment of the HKSAR. The government, as well as the whole society, needs to make all-out effort to ensure the Legco elections will be held as scheduled, the statement said.

Under the coronavirus pandemic, more than 60 countries held their general election or referendum as scheduled or held their general election or referendum after a short delay, and the government can take reference to these relevant experiences, the pan-democrats said in the statement.

In the statement, the lawmakers slammed the government for taking advantage of containing the epidemic to attempt to violently deprive Hong Kong citizens of their right to vote, amid its mistakes made in anti-epidemic measures.

 

Sources:

政府宣布押後立法會選舉一年 提請人大決定處理「真空期」 強調無政治考慮但無諮詢專家意見 / 立場報道
據報政府傍晚公布押後選舉 22 民主派議員發聯署聲明反對 斥等同「竊取政權」/  立場報道

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