Selin ATAY-TDO- Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam has invoked emergency laws to postpone September's Legislative Council election by a year owing to a worsening coronavirus outbreak.

“The announcement I have to make today is the most difficult one I have had to make in the past seven months,” Lam said at a news conference, yet added that it was necessary to safeguard people’s health.

“It is a really tough decision to delay the election, but we want to ensure public safety and health, and to make sure the elections are held in an open, fair and impartial manner. The decision is therefore essential.” Carrie Lam said noting that the Chinese government had given her full backing.

Hong Kong's leader Carrie Lam stated that she was "only paying attention to the current pandemic situation", denying the move was a political decision to hobble the opposition, while Beijing welcomed the postponement as "necessary, reasonable and legal".

Carrie Lam said the exposure of millions of staff and voters, including vulnerable elderly people, to coronavirus on polling day threatened to overwhelm the city’s public healthcare system. Lam added some Hong Kong permanent residents were stranded in mainland China and abroad due to travel restrictions. Therefore, it would be “impossible” for them to return home to vote.

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

On the other hand, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany condemned the postponement of Legislative Council elections in Hong Kong.

"We condemn the government's decision to postpone the Legislative Council elections for 1 year and disqualify opposition candidates.” McEnany said stressing that this decision has disrupted Hong Kong's democratic process and freedoms.

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