Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced on Friday, July 31, that the city’s Legislative Council election would be delayed due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic.
During her announcement on Friday evening, Lam said that postponing the election was a “difficult decision” that would ensure public safety.
According to Reuters, pro-democracy parties had hoped to win a historic majority during this year’s election—which had originally been slated for September 6— in the wake of public outrage over the deeply unpopular national security law passed last month.
The sweeping new law was imposed on the city by China and bans all forms of secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with a foreign power. It threatens a maximum sentence of life in prison and has already been used to arrest dozens of protesters over the last month.
On Wednesday, July 29, the Hong Kong Police Force arrested four students between the ages of 16 to 21 for violating the national security law by “advocating for Hong Kong independence.”
On Thursday, the Hong Kong government announced that it had disqualified 12 pro-democracy nominees for the city’s top decision-making body. In a statement, the government said the barred candidates “are not in compliance with the requirement under the Legislative Council Ordinance.”
Candidates were required to submit a nomination form that included a signed declaration pledging allegiance to Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China, in addition to promising to uphold the Basic Law, also known as Hong Kong’s mini-constitution.
Pro-democracy activist and Demosisto Party founder Joshua Wong said on Thursday, July 30, that his disqualification, along with the barring of several other opposition candidates, represented Beijing’s “biggest ever crackdown on the city’s elections.”
Last year’s local elections saw record voter turnout and allowed pro-democracy candidates to win hundreds of seats. Earlier this month, a pro-democratic primary election also saw a huge turnout and sought to bolster unity among the pro-democracy parties ahead of the competitive upcoming legislative election.
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