Sat, 26 Sep 2020

BEIJING, Aug. 4 (Xinhua) -- Over the last six months, several countries worldwide have delayed or rescheduled their election campaigns owing to the raging COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected over 18.2 million people and claimed about 693,700 lives globally to date, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University.

The World Health Organization said Saturday that COVID-19 still constitutes "a public health emergency of international concern," warning "the anticipated lengthy duration of the pandemic."

Among those countries that prioritize public health over electoral considerations, Bolivia is the latest one.

The general elections in the South American country were postponed to Oct. 18, after rescheduling them from May to September, local electoral authorities announced on July 23.

The second delay came two weeks after interim President Jeanine Anez tested positive for the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, four cabinet members were also infected with the novel coronavirus.

Somalia's National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) said on June 27 it will not be possible to hold elections this year due to technical and logistical issues, including the security situation in the country.

NIEC chairperson Halima Yarey said 13 more months are needed to prepare a credible poll where Somalis can take part in a "one person, one vote" election for the first time since 1969.

Sri Lanka's election chief Mahinda Deshapriya announced on June 10 that the country will hold its parliamentary election on Aug. 5 to elect a new 225-member parliament.

The parliamentary election was initially scheduled to be held on April 25 after President Gotabaya Rajapaksa dissolved the parliament on March 2. The election was later postponed for June 20 because of COVID-19.

Ethiopia suspended parliamentary elections set for Aug. 29 as COVID-19 continued spreading, the National Electoral Board of Ethiopia said on March 31.

The second round of Iran's parliamentary elections, set for April 17, was canceled and rearranged on Aug. 21, Abbasali Kadkhodaei, spokesman for the Guardian Council of Constitution announced on March 15.

The council, Iran's highest legislative body, agreed with the request of the Iranian Ministry of Internal Affairs to postpone the second round of elections over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Mayoral elections in England slated for May 7 have been postponed for one year due to the COVID-19 outbreak, a government spokesperson announced on March 13.

The Electoral Commission said that there were "growing risks to the delivery of the polls" and that "significant numbers" of people may not be able to cast their ballots, with the number of COVID-19 infections rising, according to the English newspaper Daily Telegraph.

The London mayoral election was also delayed for a year.

Germany's ruling party Christian Democratic Union (CDU) delayed a conference scheduled for April 25 to elect a new leader "indefinitely" against the backdrop of forecasts that the coronavirus would spread further in Germany, party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer announced on March 12.

For the CDU, it is "quite clear that the safety and health of the people in our country have the highest priority," Kramp-Karrenbauer said in a statement, adding that the party conference would be held as soon as the epidemic situation allows.

Despite street protests for months calling for a referendum on a new constitution, Chile mulled delaying the referendum scheduled for last April because of COVID-19 concerns, Interior Minister Gonzalo Blumel told media. The referendum has been postponed to October.

"Our priority is also to ensure the referendum can be carried out in the best possible way," Blumel was quoted by Reuters. "If that means looking at alternatives, we will have to consider them."

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