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Saturday, November 26, 2022

Northern Ireland’s early election postponed

LONDON ( Associated Press) – The political deadlock in Northern Ireland deepened on Friday with the British government delaying an early assembly election in Belfast after a deadline to stall the government.

Limbo means more uncertainty and delays in government decisions at a time when many people in Northern Ireland are suffering from rising food and energy prices.

The deadline for Northern Ireland’s assembly to choose a governing executive expired at midnight on Thursday amid controversy over post-Brexit rules. Under power-sharing rules in the region, a new election must take place in 12 weeks. Civil servants will keep essential services running in the interim.

Britain’s Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris was expected to announce a mid-term election in mid-December. Instead, he said on Friday that he was in talks with the main parties.

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“I listen when parties say they don’t really want elections,” he said. But he said he had “limited options” under political rules.

“I’m still going to call an election,” he said.

“This is a really serious situation,” he said. “As of the minute after midnight, there are no ministers in office in the Executive for Northern Ireland. I will take limited but necessary steps to ensure that public services continue to function and protect public finances, but what I do I can, it has its limits.”

Assembly members met on Thursday but failed to elect a president, the first step toward restoring the government since the election in May.

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