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Uhuru bans political events for two months

POLITICS
By Judah Ben-Hur | November 4th 2020
President Uhuru Kenyatta. [File, PSCU, Standard]

All political rallies have been suspended for 60 days to curb the rapid spread of coronavirus in the country. President Uhuru Kenyatta gave the order as one of the measures meant to beef up the fight against the pandemic after chairing a sixth intergovernmental Covid-19 summit on Wednesday.

" All political gatherings and rallies are suspended for a period of 60 days with immediate effect. Anyone wishing to hold such meetings should do so in town halls and must observe all Covid protocols, including limiting the attendees to one-third seating capacity of the hall,” he stated. 

In his thirteenth address to the country on the pandemic, the President did not absolve himself and other political leaders from the blame in leading to the spread of the virus through gatherings. 

Uhuru called upon leaders to make bold decisions to lead by example as the country grapples to contain the rising Covid-19 cases.

He said, "We have failed because even the way we have been carrying ourselves as if there is no disease. Meeting without masks and bringing people together without social distancing."

His order comes under the backdrop of intense political activities in the country following the recent launch of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) report.

The President and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga gathered a mammoth crowd in Kisumu City shortly after the release of the BBI report in Kisii County.

Uhuru and Raila addressed crowds as the former inspected projects in the lakeside city. The crowds flouted Covid rules such as social distancing and wearing of face masks. 

The new restriction is also a blow to Deputy President William Ruto who, in the past month, has been organising political rallies in different parts of the country in a bid to secure his 2020 bid for the presidency. 

Last month, the Deputy president pulled a massive crowd in Kisii where people observed no social distance while many didn't have masks. 

On October 30, the DP pulled an even larger crowd in Nyeri where his supporters allied to Jubilee's Tangatanga allied faction clashed with those of Nyeri MP Kimani Ngunjiri. In these social gatherings, Covid-19 rules were thrown through the window.

The rise in such fundraisers in churches and political rallies coincided with the increase in Covid-19 cases prompting the government to revise the protocols.

The ban on political events comes after Machakos Governor Alfred Mutua, who has launched his 2022 presidential bid, suspended his activities due to the pandemic. 

"Due to the rising Covid cases, which appear more serious than before, I am postponing my nationwide Listening Tours until the situation improves. I urge other leaders to also be responsible and halt their public meetings & to lead by example by wearing masks, keeping distance," read a tweet from the governor.

On Tuesday, DP Ruto also announced a suspension of his political events scheduled for the Eastern part of the country citing a rise in infection rate.

President Uhuru expressed his disappointment in how people failed to adhere to the protocols after the curve was flattened in September. He cautioned Kenyans not to believe in conspiracy theories that the virus is not in the country and not to compare themselves with countries that do not disclose the truth about their fight with the pandemic. 

"Our first responsibility as a government is to ensure we have protected the lives of our citizens and we can't do that if we can't tell you the truth. Let us not compare ourselves with others," he urged.

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