Namibia: President Hage Geingob re-elected, with a sharply lower score

Hage Geingob re-elected but ruling party takes hit at the polls, with two-thirds parliamentary majority whittled down

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The outgoing Namibian president, Hage Geingob, was re-elected with 56.3% of the vote cast, a clear drop from the 86% he had won five years ago .

The leader of the Swapo (People’s Organization of South West Africa), party in power since the independence of Namibia in 1990, ahead widely in the poll November 27 Panduleni Itula, dissenting candidate Swapo who obtained 30% votes, according to electoral commission figures released Saturday night.

Leader of the Opposition McHenry Venaani receives only 5.3%. The past closeness of his party, the Popular Democratic Movement ( PDM ), with South Africa’s apartheid, continues to discourage a large part of the electorate.

“Democracy is the real winner,” said Hage Geingob, for whom “the elections were fiercely contested”.

Panduleni Itula and the leader of a new opposition party, the Movement of Landless ( LPM ) Bernadus Swartbooi, however, denounced electoral fraud. In particular, Mr Itula reported a “multitude of unprecedented irregularities”.

The 62-year-old former dentist, who accuses the president of selling the country’s wealth to foreigners, which is particularly popular among young people, notably led the way in the capital, Windhoek.

“It served as a springboard for frustrations and it brought together all the people who were unhappy with the president,” said Graham Hopwood of Namibia’s leading think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research.

Namibia was the first African country to introduce electronic voting in 2014. This equipment has been criticized by the opposition, which claims that the absence of paper ballots increases the possibility of fraud.

The Southern African Development Community ( SADC ), for its part, considered that the elections “generally took place in a calm atmosphere, were well organized (…) allowing voters to exercise their democratic duty”.

Majority reduced to the Assembly
The electoral commission also said Saturday night that Swapo won 65 percent of seats in the National Assembly, failing to obtain a two-thirds majority. It had 80% of the constituencies in the previous legislature.

The turnout was 60% for the presidential election.

Hage Geingob, 78, runs Namibia, a desert country in southern Africa, since 2014. He is re-elected but gets the worst score ever achieved by the ruling party’s candidate.

Despite a subsoil full of natural resources, including uranium, seabed rich in fish and diamonds, and the growth of its tourism, Namibia has been plunged for several years into recession.

Falling commodity prices and a persistent drought for several seasons have pushed back its gross domestic product two years in a row (2017 and 2018) and unemployment is one-third (34%) of its population.

The regime of President Geingob is also splashed by a corruption scandal.

A few weeks ago, Wikileaks released thousands of documents accusing government officials of receiving the equivalent of $ 10 million worth of bribes from an Icelandic fishing company.

Two ministers implicated in the case were forced to resign a few days before the vote, one of whom was even briefly detained.

The head of state denied any involvement in this affair.

AFP

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