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Namibian Electoral Commission Under Fire from Human Rights Group

  • Joe DeCapua

Namibian National Society for Human Rights

Namibian National Society for Human Rights

Voter lists for weekend elections strongly challenged as inaccurate

Namibia holds national elections Friday and Saturday, when voters will choose a president and members of parliament.

President Hifikepunye Pohamba and the ruling SWAPO party are heavily favored. Thirteen opposition parties are challenging SWAPO.

But the elections are not being conducted on a level playing field, according to the Namibian National Society for Human Rights. Phil ya Nangoloh, head of the group, says, “The Namibians are ready to go to vote…. Whether the electoral commission…is ready, that’s another question.”

The commission is ill prepared for the election, says Ya Nangoloh. It is “required to act only in one way – in a fair and impartial manner, but the evidence at our disposal is to the contrary.”

Voter lists challenged

“We have evidence that voters registration – book listing voters and their details…identity cards and…registration number(s)…contains discrepancies, preposterous inclusions and omissions. And we have so far recorded over 120 persons who have numerous cards,” he says.

The number of voters in the official registration list has changed many times, he adds, with the figure varying by thousands.

“We don’t know the number of voters in this country,” he says. Ya Nangoloh says there are other problems as well.

“We have also seen that the final voters register contains hundreds deceased persons. It contains 132 at least under age persons. And then is also contains persons who have registered after the cutoff date.”

The National Society for Human Rights took its complaints to the election commission earlier this month and requested an “electronic” version of the list. That request was turned down and the group claims the panel has retaliated against it for publicizing the problems.

“They retaliated against us on Sunday. We received a letter that we are no longer qualified to act as election observers. So, the ban against us is illegal and we are set to go to court this evening to challenge the withdrawal of our status to act as election monitors,” he says.

The group also says the media coverage of the election campaigns has heavily favored the ruling SWAPO party candidates.