Geingob out in the cold before demotion

Namibia’s Prime Minister, Hage Geingob, resigned on Tuesday after President Sam Nujoma demoted him to local government minister.

Geingob had served as prime minister since independence in 1990.

This week his advisers described Nujoma’s move as a humiliation for the man with whom he has hardly been on talking terms for more than a year.

Geingob was ousted from the government in a major Cabinet reshuffle that involved the elevation of two of his potential rivals for the presidential candidacy in 2004.

Theo-Ben Gurirab, the Minister of Foreign Affairs for 12 years, has been appointed prime minister and Hidipo Hamutenya, the Minister of Trade and Industry, will take over foreign affairs, which has been split.

Information and broadcasting, formerly part of the Foreign Affairs Ministry, will now be controlled by Nujoma.

Nujoma’s removal of Geingob, which came with little warning, occurred on Tuesday morning, a day after the ruling South West African People’s Organisation (Swapo), concluded its five-yearly congress.

Party insiders say Nujoma probably suspects Geingob was behind strong opposition to his insistence to appoint 21 women to the central committee, Swapo’s second-highest decision-making body between congresses.

Others speculate that the final straw to their relationship may also have been a congress resolution forbidding Nujoma to run for a fourth five-year term as president.
Geingob did not propose the resolution but some believe he may have been behind it.

Geingob had reportedly let it be known he would not support Nujoma if he wanted to remain president for another five years. In 1998 he had backed the controversial move that changed the Constitution to allow Nujoma to run for a fourth term until 2004.

Two weeks before the congress Nujoma warned against “factionalism”, insisting on unity in Swapo. He used that argument to appoint three people to join him in the top echelon of the ruling party. The appointments were formalised at the congress.

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