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Initial Returns Indicate Namibia's SWAPO Headed for Landslide Win

  • Scott Bobb

The head of Pan-African Parliament's observer team, Ambrose Dery of Ghana, said the process had been fraught with irregularities, but these had not affected the overall outcome

Early returns from last week's elections in Namibia show with about one-third of the votes counted the ruling South West Africa People's Party appears headed for a landslide victory with three-fourths of the vote. But a new party, the Rally for Democracy and Progress, is emerging as the likely opposition leader with about 9 percent.

A trend began to emerge as tabulation entered a fourth day following Namibia's national elections last week. The ruling South West Africa People's Party appears headed for a landslide victory.

The head of the Pan-African Parliament's observer team, Ambrose Dery of Ghana, said the process had been fraught with irregularities, but these had not affected the overall outcome.

"Above all, because of the involvement of the Namibian police who are perceived by all stakeholders to be very independent of government control, the fact that they were represented at all of the polling stations and involved at various stages of the electoral process, we have drawn the conclusion that it [the election] was free, fair and credible." said Dery.

Dery said, however, that his team had registered numerous problems. The voter registration list, which was issued four separate times, contained many errors and irregularities.

Coverage in the news media heavily favored the ruling SWAPO party.

There were reports of voter intimidation and only the two major parties had monitors at all the polling stations.

He said a new process that allowed people to vote at polling stations other than where they were registered caused confusion and was a major cause of the delays in vote counting.

Observers from the African Union and the Southern African Development Community issued similar assessments.

Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba is expected to be re-elected to a second, five-year term and SWAPO, which has dominated Namibian politics since independence nearly 20 years ago, is expected to retain its dominance in parliament.

But a new party, the Rally for Democracy and Progress, has made a strong showing and is likely to become the main opposition party.

The RDP was formed two years ago after its leader, former foreign minister Hidipo Hamutenye, lost his bid to become SWAPO leader upon the retirement of Namibia's first president, Sam Nujoma.

Dery said the delays in announcing the election results were causing considerable anxiety among the general public.

"People are concerned," added Dery. "And I believe that it is the view of the majority of people that we have interacted with that it would have been better if the results were declared faster than they are being done now."

Officials say they hope to announce the final results by the end of the week.

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