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Hong Kong postpones elections for a year over virus concerns

The Hong Kong government has postponed September’s parliamentary elections by a year, saying it is necessary amid a rise in coronavirus infections.

Hong Kong is currently experiencing a spike in Covid-19 infections, and reported 121 new cases on Friday.

However, the opposition has accused the government of using the pandemic as a pretext to stop people from voting.

On Thursday, the government banned 12 pro-democracy candidates from running in the elections.

Opposition activists had hoped to obtain a majority in the Legislative Council (LegCo) in September’s poll, capitalising on anger at Beijing’s imposition of a controversial national security law in Hong Kong, and fears that the territory’s freedoms are being eroded.

On Friday, Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she would invoke emergency powers to postpone the elections, calling it the “most difficult decision I’ve made over the past seven months”.

“This postponement is entirely made based on public safety reasons, there were no political considerations,” she said.

Opposition politicians say that, under local election laws, the polls can only be postponed by 14 days, and that a longer delay would “trigger a constitutional crisis in the city”.

Lawmaker Tanya Chan said she suspected pro-government politicians were more concerned about “their own election prospects” rather than “the severity of the pandemic”.

In announcing her decision, Ms Lam argued that many governments had also postponed elections by a year, including London’s Mayoral elections, and local government elections in Australia’s New South Wales.

Hong Kong has had more than 100 daily new cases, for 10 days in a row.

Health experts have told the BBC that, with the reintroduction of social distancing measures, the rate of infection appears to have slowed, and they hope Hong Kong will be back to close to zero local infections within four to six weeks.

Source:BBC NEWS