SADC declares Namibia polls fair as results trickle in

Namibia’s general elections last week were “free and fair”, observers from neighbouring countries said on Monday, as a trickle of results gave the ruling party an early lead.

“I declare that the presidential and National Assembly elections were transparent, credible, peaceful, free and fair,” said Francisco Madeira, who headed the observer mission for the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The 15-nation bloc deployed 120 observers across Namibia for the presidential and parliamentary elections held on Friday and Saturday.

The ruling South West Africa People’s Organisation (Swapo), in power since independence in 1990, faced a challenge from the breakaway Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), but took a lead in the first small batch of returns.

With just less than 48 000 votes counted, President Hifikepunye Pohamba took 63%, against nearly 12% for his nearest rival, RDP leader Hidipo Hamutenya. The results showed a similar pattern in the parliamentary race.

The first results were only announced on Monday morning, 36 hours after polls closed on Saturday night.

The RDP has complained that parties were not given enough information about the vote-counting process, with new verification centres blamed for holding up the release of results.

The SADC observers did recommend that electoral authorities improve their communication, and called for earlier release of the voter roll to “minimise future discrepancies”.—Sapa-AFP

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