The District Council elections scheduled to take place on Sunday may be delayed if violent clashes continue across Hong Kong, according to Secretary for Constitutional and Mainland Affairs Patrick Nip.

On Monday, Nip offered three conditions for the elections to go ahead as planned. He stated that the “violence and all kinds of duress” must stop immediately, the obstruction of tunnels, highways and roads must cease, and he called for an end to the destruction of transport facilities and traffic paralysis.

Patrick Nip. File photo:

“The situation in the past weekend has obviously reduced the chance of holding the election as scheduled, and I am very anxious about this,” he told reporters. “I must say that postponing the election is a difficult decision to make. We will not take this step unless absolutely necessary.”

Nip added that the government will still try its best to ensure the election can move forward, with measures taken to enhance security at polling stations. The No Canvassing Zone will be expanded to create a buffer zone for voters, and the government will also arrange police, the Civil Aid Service and security contractors to be guard polling stations.

Protests in Hong Kong have escalated since the start of November, with major confrontations taking place at university campuses as well as large-scale weekday demonstrations. Over the past weekend, tensions reached boiling point at the campus of Polytechnic University, which also sparked widespread disruptions across Kowloon.

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Nip said there were three possible levels for suspending the District Council election: on the level of an individual polling station, the entire constituency, or around the city as a whole. Only the chief executive can decide to order a halt to the election on a citywide level, he said.

A backup date for the District Council election has been arranged for December 1. If the operation of a polling station is disrupted midway through election day, voters will be given a corresponding time on the backup date to cast their ballots, Nip said.

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Holmes Chan

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.