Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said she won’t run for a second term, ending a momentous five-year period that saw the financial hub become more isolated globally due to a crackdown on pro-democracy protests and rigid Covid-19 restrictions.
Lam announced her plan at a regular press briefing at 11 a.m. Monday, saying she had informed Beijing last year that she wouldn’t run for a second-five year term on May 8.
The city’s current No. John Lee is the current No. 2 official in the city. He has formed a team to help him prepare for an election run. Local media, including the South China Morning Post, HK01 and HK01 reported this on Sunday, citing anonymous sources.
Lam invoked emergency powers in February to put off the elections originally set for March 27, This was in the midst of an omicron epidemic that saw Hong Kong experience the highest rate per capita virus mortality in any developed country due to its elderly population not being adequately vaccinated.
Before that, she had been tipped as the race front-runner, with local media calling her a “comeback queen.” But at a virus briefing last week she sparked rumors she wouldn’t seek another five-year term.
“If the next government needs my opinion,” she said, “I will be happy to provide.”
Here are more must-read stories from TIME