Chinaâ€™s top legislature has decided to extend the mandate for the current group of Hong Kong lawmakers for a year from its expiry date of September 30, after a scheduled election was delayed, state media reported on Tuesday.
Critics cast the decision to postpone the election as political, saying it was intended to prevent Hong Kongâ€™s opposition pro-democracy camp from capitalising on a wave of public support after China imposed harsh new national security laws on the city in late June.
The decision by Chinaâ€™s legislature means Hong Kongâ€™s 70-member Legislative Council, or Legco, will continue to perform its duties for â€œno less than a yearâ€ and until the next Legco starts its four-year term, state news agency Xinhua said.
The standing committee of Chinaâ€™s parliament, the National Peopleâ€™s Congress, supported the Hong Kong governmentâ€™s decision on July 31 to postpone a September 6 election for the next Legco for a year, calling it â€œnecessary and appropriateâ€.
â€œIt not only maintains the constitutional and legal order of the HKSAR (Hong Kong), but also ensures the normal governance of the HKSAR government and the normal operation of society,â€ Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam said in a statement. â€œIt demonstrates once again the care and support of the Central government.â€
The Hong Kong government justified the delay given what it called the â€œsevereâ€ COVID-19 epidemic situation and a need to protect public health.
At least 12 pro-democracy candidates, including a number of young activists and moderate democrats from the Civic Party were earlier disqualified from the election on ideological grounds.
Four of those barred are incumbent pro-democracy lawmakers including Civic Party members Alvin Yeung and Dennis Kwok.
There was no immediate clarification on whether these lawmakers would be allowed to serve out the extra year.
Category: Hong Kong