Britain called on the Hong Kong government on Sunday to reinstate disqualified candidates and hold legislative council elections as soon as possible, in a joint statement with Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States.

Britain’s foreign minister Dominic Raab said in the joint statement he and his counterparts from the other four countries were gravely concerned about the disqualification of candidates in Hong Kong.

“We call on the Hong Kong government to reinstate the eligibility of disqualified candidates,” the statement said. “We urge the Hong Kong government to hold the elections as soon as possible.”

On July 31, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam postponed a September 6 election for seats in the city legislature for a year because of a spike in novel coronavirus cases, dealing a blow to the pro-democracy opposition hoping to make gains in the vote.

The opposition was hoping to win a historic majority in the Legislative Council, where only half the seats are directly elected and the other half filled mostly by pro-Beijing appointees.

Lam’s postponement of the vote comes after 12 pro-democracy candidates were disqualified from running in the poll, for reasons including perceived subversive intentions, opposition to a new security law and campaigning to win a legislation-blocking majority.