Zambia: Electoral Body Bans Mass Rallies Over Surge in Covid-19 Cases

Zambia's electoral body on Thursday announced that it had banned mass political rallies due to a surge in Covid-19 cases ahead of the August 12 elections.

The country, facing a third wave, recorded 825 cases out of 10,000 tests and four deaths on Thursday, the Ministry of Health said.

Zambia has also rolled out vaccines among them AstraZeneca for its 17 million people with a 97,000 cumulative figures of Covid-19 patients.

Electoral Commission of Zambia boss Patrick Nshindano told reporters the move came after a recommendation from a "technical working group".

"It's not campaigns that have been suspended, but (mass) rallies," Mr Nshindano said.

There was yet no consensus from political parties over the issue of not holding mass rallies.

On launching his official campaign in Lusaka, incumbent President Edgar Lungu said his governing Patriotic Front party was not going to hold mass rallies as they could act as superspreaders.

The opposition objected and called the move as a ploy to disadvantage them.

The southern African country has also banned the Zambia International Trade Fair which is usually held in July in the second biggest city of Ndola in the Copper belt.

Eighteen contestants have entered the fray to dislodge incumbent President Lungu who took over from late Michael Sata in a 2015 presidential by-election.

An estimated 7.2 million people are expected to vote in an election largely viewed as a two-horse race between Mr Lungu and Hakainde Hichilema of the main opposition UPND.

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