April 3, 2022 11:31 PM EDT

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. 2 official, John Lee, is forming a team to prepare for an electoral run, local media including the South China Morning Post and HK01 reported on Sunday, citing anonymous sources.

Lam invoked emergency powers in February to postpone the election originally planned for March 27. That came amid an omicron outbreak that resulted in Hong Kong logging the highest virus death rate per capita in a developed country, due to its under-vaccinated elderly.

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.”

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