Authorities in Hong Kong banned twelve pro-democracy opposition candidates on Thursday from participating in upcoming elections amid the deepening political tensions in the former British colony.
In September’s elections, the opposition leaders had hoped to secure a majority in Territory’s legislature after the mainland imposed a new national security law. Lester Shum and Joshua Wong are also among the other high-profile activists barred from participating in elections.
Territory’s government has asserted that the candidates are not fit for public office. It further added that these individuals could not be abiding by the constitutional duties assigned to them if they prompted Hong Kong’s independence.
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During the protests in 2014, Joshua Wong rose to highlight as a teenage activist. He described the imposition of the security law as an attack on the Territory’s remaining autonomy.
The government statement that announced the disqualification of the candidates also said that the decision was taken in line with the Basic Constitution. It further added that there is no question of any political censorship or any restriction on basic rights as alleged by some opposition members. Political experts have said that the chances of more disqualification could not be ruled out.
Meanwhile, Beijing’s decision to impose the new security law has been highly criticized in Hong Kong, the former British colony, given back to China in 1997, albeit certain unique freedoms guaranteed under the mini-constitution or Basic Law.
Moreover, many international governments have also criticized the move. But Beijing has maintained that it is essential to restore stability in the territory after being hit by mass demonstrations last year, which eventually turned violent.
The decision to disqualify notable activists and some incumbent lawmakers comes as the coronavirus cases in territory surge. Carrie Lam, the chief executive of the territory, said on Wednesday that the territory was on the verge of a large outbreak, which could also overwhelm the hospitals.
Meanwhile, there also has been a rumor circulating in the political circles of Hong Kong that as a result of the outbreak, the government could postpone the election, BBC reported.
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