How a fresh wave of Covid 19 infections could paralyze Kenya’s 2022 election campaigns

DP Ruto and Raila Odinga have been spotted freely shaking hands with crowds of supporters who were not wearing masks or observing social distance. This is a recipe for disaster, Kenya scientists warn and are urging the government to outlaw public meetings until further notice

By The Weekly Vision Online

The emergence of the fast-spreading Covid-19 strain Omicron from South Africa is bad news for Kenya political party leaders preparing for the August 2022 elections. The fast-spreading virus now with a 29 per cent positivity rate in Kenya within just one week is likely to see the county return to a fresh round of lock-downs that could greatly curtail public rallies, and roll back most economic gains that were beginning to pick up.

The campaign rallies have been described by Kenya health officials as “super spreaders” second only to public transport. Leading presidential contenders ODM leader Raila Odinga and deputy president William Ruto have both held huge public meetings in the recent past.

DP Ruto and Raila Odinga have been spotted freely shaking hands with crowds of supporters who were not wearing masks or observing social distance. This is a recipe for disaster, Kenya scientists warn and are urging the government to outlaw public meetings until further notice. Kenya’s critical election is only eight months away and a fresh round of lock-down could put politicians jostling for positions in a tight spot.

But political watchers are arguing that Kenya is not an “island” citing the USA which held her 2020 elections amid surging Covid-19 infections with numbers far outstripping Nairobi’s. Ethiopia, Malawi, Botswana and Nigeria have also held elections during the Covid 19 pandemic. An African court for human rights in Arusha is on record advising African countries facing an “overwhelming” threat from Covid 19 to postpone elections until it’s safe enough for campaign rallies to resume.

But soaring infections if not brought under control to allow public campaigns could greatly impact negatively on the 2022 poll that some actors could later move to court and claim it was “neither free nor fair”! The major headache will be how to compel politicians to avoid handshakes, wash hands and keep social distance when they are used to close distance bonding with supporters. In addition to wearing masks.

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