The Hong Kong leadership considers postponing September’s legislative elections amid a recent surge in coronavirus cases, media reports say, prompting criticism from pro-democracy candidates.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s advisory Executive Council (ExCo) met “to discuss the possibility of postponing the Legislative Council (LegCo) polls, but no decision was reached,” the English-language South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported.
The paper reported that Lam would convene another meeting once nominations had closed at the end of the week.
It said the polls could be postponed amid a third wave of coronavirus infections that prompted Lam’s administration to announce an effective lockdown on Monday.
Opposition and pro-democracy candidates swept the board in District Council elections last November, prompting fears among pro-China politicians that they could win a majority in LegCo on a wave of popular anger and months of street protests over the loss of Hong Kong’s promised freedoms and autonomy under Chinese rule.
The meeting came as pro-China media organizations stepped up pressure on Lam with a series of reports citing sources as saying the elections would be postponed for a year.
Johnny Patterson, director of the U.K.-based rights group Hong Kong Watch, said postponing the elections would be “an assault on fundamental freedoms,” linking it to the recent imposition of a draconian security law on the city by Beijing.
“This decision to consider postponing Legislative Council elections for a year is driven by fear of an opposition pro-democracy majority, and by fears that attempts to disqualify and arrest pro-democracy candidates under the National Security Law will be met by further sanctions from the international community,” Patterson said in a statement. (Source: RFA)