June 23, 2020 6:03 AM EDT

(SINGAPORE) — Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong called Tuesday for early elections to seek a fresh mandate despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Lee said in a televised speech that he has advised the country’s president to dissolve Parliament to pave the way for early polls. He said an election now when things are relatively stable will give the new government a full five-year mandate.

The announcement comes days after Singapore lifted most virus restrictions. Lee said infections in dorms used by foreign workers that caused cases to spike to more than 42,000 have declined, while cases outside the dorms have stabilized.

He said he decided to hold elections now because there is no guarantee the pandemic will end by next April, when the current government’s term ends.

“The alternative is to wait out the COVID-19 pandemic, but we have no assurance that the pandemic will be over before this government’s term must end next April, and that is why i decided to hold the general election now,” he said.

Contact us at editors@time.com.

Read More From TIME

Related Stories

EDIT POST