Namibia’s Ruling Party Takes Early Lead in Election

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and his ruling South West African People’s Organization led their nearest rivals by more than a five-to-one margin in early returns from the nation’s fifth post-independence elections.

Swapo won 67 percent of the 84,836 ballots in certified results the Electoral Commission of Namibia released from 17 of 107 regional offices by 9 a.m. local time. The Rally for Democracy and Progress, formed in 2007 by former Swapo members, was second with 12 percent, while the United Democratic Front had 4.7 percent. Pohamba was leading his 11 rivals with 68 percent in the parallel presidential race.

“Swapo is heading for a landslide,” said Graham Hopwood, executive director of the Windhoek-based Institute for Public Policy Research. “This election will change Namibian politics in the sense that we will have one strong opposition party in the form of the RDP rather than several small, weak parties.”

About 1.18 million people registered to vote in the Nov. 27-28 elections in Namibia, the world’s largest source of offshore diamonds. Opposition parties said the contest was marred by irregularities and delays in the release of the results.

The Electoral Commission “is fully aware that the nation is waiting to know the outcome” of the election, Chairman Victor Tonchi said in a statement distributed in the capital, Windhoek. “It is however of utmost importance to ensure that all verification is done in a systemic and methodical manner. The commission would thus not rush the process.”

Initial results from the presidential race showed Pohamba securing 68 percent of the 85,361 certified ballots cast and RDP leader Hidipo Hamutenya, a one-time foreign minister, 12 percent.

Transparent Vote

The parliamentary election was contested by 14 parties. A 120-member observer mission from the Southern African Development Community, a 15-nation regional grouping, said the vote was free, fair and transparent.

Formed in 1960, Swapo has ruled Namibia since independence in 1990. It won 55 of 72 National Assembly seats in the last elections in 2004.

Most of country’s diamonds are mined by Namdeb, a joint venture between the government and De Beers, the world’s largest diamond company. Namibia is also Africa’s second-biggest producer of uranium, with mines operated by Paladin Energy Ltd. and Rio Tinto Group, and has gold and zinc deposits.

Namibia was ruled by Germany for three decades before South Africa took control following an invasion at the start of the First World War. After a 22-year armed conflict led by Swapo, the country won independence and the party’s leader, Sam Nujoma, became president. He served three terms before handing over to his favored successor Pohamba.


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