The Chief Executive of Hong Kong invoked her emergency powers to postponed the September elections for the city’s legislature, after the government barred 12 pro-democracy nominees, as precautionary measures they have to undertake during the surge of the coronavirus cases in the city.
The White House, which Donald Trump reported to suggest the delay of the November’s US presidential elections, condemned the decision of the government of Hong Kong citing that this move only adds up to the growing list of the broken promises of Beijing and it undermines the democratic processes and freedoms that form the basis of Hong Kong’s prosperity, addressed by White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany.
BREAKING: Hong Kong postpones legislative election citing Covid-19 https://t.co/EXyHkzBIvc #HongKong #China #LegCo #NationalSecurityLaw #coronavirus #COVID19 #COVID #coronavirusoutbreak pic.twitter.com/puv54TwPBW— Hong Kong Free Press HKFP (@HongKongFP) July 31, 2020
In a press conference, Chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-Ngor said that if the election pushed through on its scheduled time, which is September 06, it may not fit the requirements of a fair and open election. It will also put the health of voters, candidates, supporters, and electoral staff at risk. The government cited the social-distancing requirement and the strict travel restrictions imposed in these times that may cause voters in mainland China or abroad to return in time to vote. She added that it will be up to the National People’s Congress standing committee to decide on how to deal with the outcome of this postponement of the election. It is said that the next legislative elections will be on the 5th of September next year.
The government’s critics believe that this is all part of the newly imposed National Security Law by Beijing and a clear sign of the city’s political autonomy in turmoil. Just this week, 12 pro-democracy candidates lose their chance of being part of the city’s legislative council due to the disqualification handed by the government. The nominees’ failure to submit and support the new law; which prominent activist Joshua Wong, one of the 12 candidates, called Draconian, cost them their candidacy.
Since the beginning of July, Hong Kong reported a surge in coronavirus infections. As of Friday, the city reported a total of 3,273 infections, more than double the July 1 cases reported. The outbreak pushed 68 countries to postponed their national elections and referendums, the data from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance says that more than 40 have held national elections during the coronavirus crisis.