Namibia president takes lead in partial election results
The southwestern African country held its sixth presidential and parliamentary elections on Wednesday amid economic woes and growing frustration against the regime.
Geingob’s South West Africa People’s (SWAPO) party has been in power since Namibia’s independence from South Africa in 1990 and is widely hailed for its role in the liberation struggle.
But the president — who was elected with a sweeping 87 percent majority in 2014 — is predicted to lose a share of votes to a breakaway SWAPO member running as an independent candidate, former dentist Panduleni Itula.
The breakaway candidate is particularly popular among youth frustrated by the lack of jobs and too young to remember the SWAPO-led war for independence.
Partial results published by the Electoral Commission of Namibia after half the votes were counted showed Geingob leading with 55.04 percent, followed by Itula with 29.72 percent.
SWAPO was also ahead in parliament with 65.57 percent of votes.
The party’s long-standing opponent, the Popular Democratic Movement (PDM), was in second place with 15.6 percent.
PDM candidate and second-time runner McHenry Venaani was third in the presidential race with 5.17 percent of votes.
Election commission chief Theo Mujoro said a date for the announcement of final results would be determined on Friday afternoon.
Around 1.4 million of Namibia’s 2.45 million population were registered to vote. Half were under 37 and around a third born after 1990.
The election was “generally peaceful, well organised and conducted in a professional manner,” the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional bloc said Friday.
Namibia was the first country in Africa to introduce electronic voting machines in 2014.
The machines — opposed by opposition parties fearing the lack of paper could facilitate fraud — were meant to accelerate the voting and counting process.
But the voting process was painfully sluggish and had people queueing outside for hours.
SADC recommended better training and “voter education” around the use of these machines.