August 7, 2020

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Hong Kong delays polls citing Covid pandemic

HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam on Friday postponed a September 6 election to the Chinese-ruled city’s legislature by a year because of a rise in coronavirus cases, dealing a blow to the pro-democracy opposition which had hoped to make huge gains.
The US quickly condemned the move, saying it was the latest example of Beijing undermining democracy.
The decision to delay the vote came after 12 pro-democracy candidates were disqualified from running for perceived subversive intentions and opposition to a sweeping new security law imposed by Beijing, prompting questions among many about whether the pandemic was the real reason for the delay. Avery Ng, secretary-general of the League of Social Democrats, said: “Obviously the Chinese Communist Party is using Covid-19 as a cover to stop Hong Kongers from voting against the government and democrats’ potential majority win”.
Lam said she had to invoke an emergency law to make the postponement and no political considerations were involved. China’s parliament would decide how to fill the legislative vacuum, she added. She told reporters the decision was aimed at safeguarding people’s health. “We have 3 million voters going out in one day across Hong Kong, such flow of people would cause high risk of infection,” Lam said. Hong Kong has reported more than 3,000 cases since January.