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New Namibian Leader Expected to Tackle Corruption


Namibia has sworn in a new president, its second since gaining independence from apartheid-era South Africa in 1990. Thousands of people turned out to see Hifikepunye Pohamba take the oath of office at an outdoor stadium in the capital, Windhoek, amid pouring rain. The presidents of Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania and Zimbabwe also attended Monday's ceremony.

In a speech, Mr. Pohamba vowed to advance unity, peace and justice during his five-year term. He also promised to continue the legacy of President Sam Nujoma, who is stepping down after 15 years in office. Mr. Pohamba served as lands minister under Mr. Nujoma, overseeing a reform program aimed at buying farmland from whites to redistribute to blacks. Sunday, Namibia swore in a new parliament, dominated by the ruling SWAPO (South West Africa People's Organization) party.

Phil Ya Nangoloh is the executive director for the Namibian monitoring and advocacy group, the National Society for Human Rights in Windhoek. He told English to Africa reporter William Eagle that President Pohamba is expected to be different from Mr. Nujoma. Mr. Ya Nangoloh says President Pohamba has come out strongly against corruption, which he says has grown rapidly in the past several years. It is also expected that the new president will favor the Peer Review Mechanism of a pan-African project to bring democracy and development to the continent, NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development).

Some observers wonder how much influence the former president will retain in Namibia. Mr. Nujoma is due to remain the head of the ruling SWAPO party for three more years. Struggles between former heads of state and their successors, especially those who want to crack down on corruption, have taken place in Zambia and Malawi.

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