Southern African News Features                                           SANF 09 No 46, December 2009
SWAPO re-elected in Namibia elections

President Hifikepunye Pohamba and his party are heading for victory with two-thirds majority in the 27 and 28 November presidential and parliamentary elections.

However, preliminary reports indicate a major change in the political landscape following the emergence of a new opposition party, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP).

Formed in 2007 by former Foreign Affairs Minister Hidipo Hamutenya, RDP is second, according to results released by the Electoral Commission of Namibia.

Pohamba has won about 75 percent of the votes counted while Hamutenya has 11 percent. Other presidential candidates share the remaining figure. A total of 14 political parties participated in the elections.

In the parliamentary elections, SWAPO has won more votes, posting impressive results in areas once considered strongholds of the opposition.

Namibia uses the First-Past-The-Post electoral system for presidential elections, in which the candidate with the most votes is declared the winner, and Proportional Representation (PR) is used for legislative elections.

Under the PR system, each political party submits a list of candidates and then the parties receive seats proportional to their overall share of the national vote.

The national assembly has 72 seats and for a party to have two thirds majority it needs to secure 48 seats.

In the last elections in 2004, SWAPO won 55 seats, while the opposition Congress of Democrats (CoD), which was at that time the main opposition, secured five. The remaining seats were shared by the other parties.

In the previous presidential elections Pohamba secured 76 percent of the valid votes cast against seven percent for CoDís leader Ben Ulenga.

CoD has already conceded defeat. Spokesperson Natji Tjirera said, "The results are very disappointing and we are forced to live in a world of hope."

More than 900,000 people registered to vote in the elections to choose a new president and members of parliament for the next five years. Namibia has a population of about 1.9 million.

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) is expected to announce the final results soon. Chairperson Victor Tonchi said counting of ballot papers is progressing well and urged the public to be patient with the results.

"The Commission is fully aware that the nation is waiting to know the final outcome of the 2009 Presidential and National Assembly elections. It is however of utmost importance to ensure that all verification is done in a systematic and methodical manner," he said.

"The Commission would thus not rush the process of results verification process as it may compromise the integrity of the process and quality of the returns."

The ECN urged the public to remain calm and maintain the peaceful environment that characterized the pre-poll period.

Election observers have praised the conduct of the 27 and 28 November election saying it was peaceful and in conformity with regional standards and principles.

A SADC Election Observer Mission made up of 120 observers led by Francisco Madeira, the Minister of Diplomatic Affairs in the Office of the President of Mozambique said no acts of intimidation or violence were observed or reported during the elections.

"Generally, the pre-election phase was characterized by a peaceful, tolerant and yet enthusiastic political atmosphere. There was clear evidence of vigour and enthusiasm among political leaders and their supporters as they conducted their campaigns," the SEOM said in its preliminary statement.

The report said most poling stations opened and closed on time allowing everyone who was in the queue an opportunity to cast their ballot.

"The Mission noted that the Electoral Officers discharged their duties professionally and the Law Enforcement Agencies arrested those who attempted to undermine the electoral process."

The mission also urged the public to maintain the peace and accept the outcome of the elections as it represents the wishes of the people.

"In line with SADC Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections and the Electoral Laws of Namibia, the Mission would like to urge all political parties and candidates to respect the will of the people. In this context, any grievances arising from this process should be pursued in accordance with the laws of the country," the mission said.

A detailed SEOM report on the elections will be released within 30 days of the announcement of results.

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SANF is produced by the Southern African Research and Documentation Centre (SARDC), which has monitored regional developments since 1985

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