Hong Kong’s Carrie Lam says leadership election will go ahead as planned

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam attends a news conference in Hong Kong, China January 31, 2022. REUTERS/Lam Yik

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HONG KONG, April 2 (Reuters) – Hong Kong’s leadership election will take place on May 8 as scheduled, the city’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Saturday, dismissing media speculation that it could be delayed a second time due to a major outbreak of COVID-19. .

Unlike in previous years, no Beijing-backed favorites for the top job have emerged at this late stage, adding to uncertainty over the future of the financial hub as Beijing imposes its rule.

Since the former British colony reverted to China in 1997, it has had four chief executives, all of whom have struggled to balance the democratic aspirations of some residents with the vision of Chinese Communist Party leaders.

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In a briefing to reporters, Lam repeatedly declined to confirm whether she would seek a second five-year term, but said the electoral arrangements remained the same despite media reports that Beijing would push back until the year. next.

The nomination period will begin on Sunday “and the election will be on May 8,” Lam said.

The government’s heavily criticized handling of a dramatic spike in COVID in recent months – following the success of the city’s “zero-COVID” tactics for much of the pandemic – has been blamed on the embattled Lam, who some say criticism, sapped his chances.

A 1,500-member election committee made up of Beijing loyalists will choose the chief executive, with all candidates expected to secure sufficient support from those members during the nomination period until April 16.

The election was due to take place on March 27, but was pushed back to May 8 to allow time for the government to tackle the COVID outbreak which has infected more than a million of the city’s 7.4 million residents. .

Lam skirted several questions about whether she held an emergency meeting on Friday with a senior Chinese leader, Xia Baolong, about election arrangements, saying some appointments were a private matter.

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Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by William Mallard

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