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Hong Kong’s pro-democracy lawmakers to resign en masse over suspensions

HONG KONG — Hong Kong‘s pro-democracy lawmakers say they will resign en masse, following a move by the city’s government to disqualify four pro-democracy legislators.

The 19 lawmakers from the opposition camp said they would move to resign in a show of defiance if any pro-democracy legislators were disqualified. The group is expected to formally announce their resignation in a news conference later Wednesday.

The disqualification of the four legislators came after the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, which held meetings on Tuesday and Wednesday, passed a resolution stating that those who support the city’s independence or refuse to acknowledge China’s sovereignty over the city, as well as commit acts that threaten national security or ask external forces to interfere in the city’s affairs, should be disqualified.

Beijing has in recent months moved to clamp down on opposition voices in Hong Kong with the imposition of a national security law, after months of anti-government protests last year rocked the city.

The four lawmakers — Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung — confirmed they were disqualified in a news conference.

“In terms of legality and constitutionality, obviously from our point of view this is clearly in breach of basic law and our rights to participate in public affairs, and a failure to observe due process,” said Kwok.

A mass resignation by the pro-democracy camp would leave Hong Kong’s legislature with only pro-Beijing lawmakers. The pro-Beijing camp already makes up a majority of the city’s legislature, and would allow lawmakers to pass bills favored by Beijing without opposition.

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam arrives at a press conference in Hong Kong, on Wednesday.Vincent Yu / AP

Earlier in the year, the four now-disqualified pro-democracy lawmakers were barred from running for legislative elections originally scheduled for September, prior to the government stating that it would postpone the elections by a year due to the coronavirus situation. The four lawmakers later remained in their posts following the postponement.

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The elections postponement was criticized by the pro-democracy camp as an attempt to block them from taking a majority of seats in the legislature, after they had held an unofficial pro-democracy primary participated in by over 600,000 voters to decide which candidates to field.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam is expected to hold a news conference later Wednesday to address the disqualifications.

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