The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted a number of elections worldwide. However, this is not the case in Africa as most of the elections scheduled have taken or will take place. In the Republic of Congo, presidential elections are slated for March 21. To ensure voters and election officials are at minimum risk of contracting the new coronavirus disease, the authorities are taking several precautions in addition to the measures already in place.
On the recommendation of the National Coordination for the Management of the Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID-19), the Council of Ministers recently authorized public gatherings in preparation for the impending presidential campaigns due to start March 5. This was established during the 16th meeting to review the epidemiological situation in the Republic of Congo, particularly in Brazzaville and Pointe-Noire, which account for 92 per cent of infected people and 96 per cent of deaths.
According to the National Coordination, the authorities have to take into account the « democratic imperatives » related to the electoral poll in March. They recommended that it was necessary to authorize public gatherings for the smooth running of the upcoming presidential campaign.
The following measures need to be observed as stipulated by the National Coordination.
– Wearing face masks by each individual in a political rally.
– The provision of disinfectant hydroalcoholic solutions to all participants by rally organizers.
– Political rallies to be held in open spaces.
– The respect, as much as possible, of physical distance between participants in gatherings.
These recommendations have already been approved by the Congolese authorities.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Congo has registered more than 8,600 cases and 127 deaths. As part of plans to curb the spread of the virus, the government has repeatedly extended the country’s state of health emergency by instilling a dusk to dawn curfew, limiting public and private gatherings to no more than 50 people and the wearing of face masks is mandatory in public spaces.