The Hong Kong government has postponed September parliamentary elections for a year, saying it is necessary amid rising coronavirus cases.
Hong Kong is currently experiencing a spike in Covid-19 infection and reported 121 new cases on Friday.
However, the opposition accused the government of using the pandemic as an excuse to stop people from voting.
On Thursday, the government banned 12 Democratic candidates from running in the elections.
Opposition activists had hoped to gain a majority in the Legislative Council (Legco) in the September poll, speculating on anger at Beijing’s drafting of Hong Kong’s controversial national security law and fears that territorial freedoms were being eroded.
The Democratic candidates achieved unprecedented gains in last year’s district council elections, receiving 17 of 18 councils.
Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam said she would call for emergency powers to postpone the elections, calling it “the most difficult decision I have made in the past seven months.”
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“This postponement was completely made on the basis of public safety reasons, there was no political consideration,” she said.