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Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam will not seek a second term

The decision was his “personal wish and aspiration” and was entirely driven by “family considerations”, Lam told a news conference, a day after the nomination period for the job opened.

She added that she informed Beijing of her decision in March last year during China’s annual parliamentary meeting. His term ends on June 30.

“It will also mean that I complete my 42 years of public service,” she said, adding that she has not decided on her future plans.

Speculation has swirled over whether Lam, who has the lowest public approval rating since Britain handed Hong Kong back to China in 1997, would run again in the leadership race. May 8.

Lam took office in 2017, promising to “fix” a divided society. But two years later, she became the center of widespread anger and discontent, as millions took to the streets to protest a controversial extradition bill with China.

These protests quickly represented greater fears among the public about China’s growing influence and control over the semi-autonomous city.

And although Lam eventually withdrew the bill months after the protests, by then it was too late to stem public fury, fueled by allegations of excessive police force and calls for more democracy.

The emergence of Covid-19 in early 2020, followed by the introduction of a national security law later that year, brought the protest movement to a halt.

The law, which was enacted by Beijing, came to define Lam’s tenure, transforming the city’s social and political landscape. Under the law, democracy activists and politicians have been arrested and many of Hong Kong’s biggest unions, advocacy groups and media have been disbanded.

And while Hong Kong was initially sheltered from the worst of the pandemic, thanks to tight border controls and restrictions on daily life, new, fast-spreading variants have plunged the city — and Lam’s administration. – in crisis once again.

The city’s per capita death rate has been the highest daily in Asia and Oceania since February 28, in part due to low vaccination rates among the elderly.

Although the peak appears to have passed, with new cases falling by the day, the surge has reignited anger at Lam and the government, who face accusations of poor preparedness in a looming public health crisis. been preparing for two years.

Embattled Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam will not seek a second term

With the post of chief executive now up for grabs, local media have highlighted former police officer and chief secretary John Lee, and finance secretary Paul Chan, as potential candidates.

The chief executive will be chosen by the Beijing-dominated election committee.

Last year, Beijing introduced sweeping electoral reforms, which gave local authorities more powers to vet candidates and ensure only “patriots” are allowed to run as candidates. In June, a new loyalty oath was introduced for all elected officials in Hong Kong – from local councilors to lawmakers – which bars access to civilian posts for pro-democracy candidates.

Several Western countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, have expressed concern over drastic changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system, with the US State Department saying in a recent report that China has played a “role unprecedented in shaping the outcome of the Hong Kong election”. elections.”

The Hong Kong government hit back at both countries, insisting on Friday that citizens’ rights and freedoms are “well protected”.

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