At least a dozen candidates were disqualified Thursday, including prominent Hong Kong activist and former leader of the 2014 Umbrella Movement Joshua Wong.
Others affected included a host of candidates from more traditional pro-democracy parties, as well as other young activists who cut their political teeth in the protest movement.
In a statement, the Hong Kong government said it supported the decisions by returning officers to “invalidate 12 nominees for this year’s Legislative Council (LegCo) General Election.”
It said the candidates had been barred on the grounds that they would not uphold the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s de facto constitution, recently expanded with a new security law imposed on the city by Beijing, which criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces.
Several letters posted by disqualified candidates from returning officers informing them of their decision cited previous opposition to the security law as a reason for the move.
“Returning Officers are still reviewing the validity of other nominations according to the laws,” the Hong Kong government said. “We do not rule out the possibility that more nominations would be invalidated.”
The news comes amid widespread reports that the government is preparing to postpone the elections, due to take place on September 6, to next year, due to an ongoing rise in coronavirus cases in the city.
It is not clear how the disqualifications will affect this, or whether there will be another round of nominations next year if the polls are postponed.
In the statement, the Hong Kong government said it “respects and safeguards the lawful rights of Hong Kong people, including the right to vote and the right to stand for elections.”