JUST IN: No Hong Kong legislative by-election to replace two ousted democrats
No legislative by-elections will be held to fill the seats of ousted pro-democracy lawmakers Au Nok-hin and Gary Fan, the official electoral body announced on Tuesday.
The two legislators lost their seats after Hong Kong’s top court rejected their applications to appeal separate court rulings that rendered them unduly elected last month. Au had previously occupied the Hong Kong Island seat while Fan occupied New Territories East.
The Electoral Affairs Commission (EAC) said in a statement that the decision was due to time constraints.
According to the Legislative Council Ordinance, a by-election to fill a vacant seat must not be held in the four months before the end of a legislative term, which will come to a close in September. Preparations for the by-elections were expected to take more than six months.
“[I]t is not possible to hold the by-election for the two geographical constituencies before the statutory deadline, which is four months preceding the end of the LegCo’s current term of office,” an EAC spokesperson said.
The EAC spokesperson also said preparation for the upcoming Legislative Council general election in the third quarter is expected to take up an enormous amount of manpower and resources.
Around 1.7 million voters have been registered in Hong Kong Island and New Territories East.
The EAC spokesperson said the Registration and Electoral Office (REO) had been putting all of its efforts into preparing for the general election, adding that recruitment and training of additional staff for a by-election would take a considerable amount of time.
“The current manpower of the REO is not adequate to prepare for two major public elections simultaneously,” they said.
The EAC also cited concerns over finding venues to hold the by-elections, as well as contingency plans in the event of a cancellation.