Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam announced on Monday that she will not seek a second term after a “rocky” five years, The Associated Press reports.
Lam, whose term was marred by protests calling for resignation, a China-led security crackdown and a worsening Covid wave, said she will step aside in June.
“I will complete my five-year term as chief executive on the 30th of June this year, and I will also call an end to my 42 years of public service,” she said, adding that her family was her “sole consideration.”
Lam’s successor is expected to be selected by May.
The city’s hard-line security chief during the 2019 protests is a leading candidate to replace Lam, according to the AP.
Lam said that she told her plans to the Beijing government last year and was met with “respect and understanding.”
Tenure marred by protests:
Lam’s popularity sank after Hong Kong passed a law allowing criminal suspects to be extradited to China, triggering mass protests in 2019.
Lam later backed a law pushed by China cracking down on protests and free speech.
Many activists, journalists, and demonstrators were arrested.
But Lam’s popularity continued to flounder after the city was hit with a massive Covid wave despite earlier successes.
More than 8,000 people have died in the latest outbreak and morgues have had to store bodies in temporary structures.
Lam initially vowed to launch a mass testing program but ultimately urged residents to test themselves using rapid home tests.
Hong Kong media reported that Chief Secretary John Lee, the No. 2 official in the city, is expected to run to succeed Lam.
Lee is a former police officer who became the city commissioner in 2010 and was the city’s secretary during the 2019 protests.
Lee has been vocal about his support for the tough police stance against the protesters.
The city’s leader is elected by a committee of lawmakers and others. The election had been scheduled for March 27 but was postponed until May due to the Covid outbreak.