Nam president has strong lead

2009-12-02 19:10

Windhoek - Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba took a strong lead in partial returns on Wednesday from last week's general elections, despite a challenge from a new breakaway party.

His ruling South West Africa People's Organisation (Swapo), in power since independence in 1990, also took a commanding lead in the parliamentary race, although key opposition strongholds such as the capital Windhoek have not yet reported results.

Pohamba took 77% of the 261 000 votes counted so far, representing nearly one quarter of the country's registered voters, according to the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN).

His closest rival, Hidipo Hamutenya from the breakaway Rally for Democracy and Progress, took just over 8%.

A former foreign minister, Hamutenya was a popular figure within Swapo and had hoped to tap into dissatisfaction with the ruling party, saying he would fight corruption and nepotism in government.

Opposition parties are increasingly frustrated at the slow process of verifying results.

"It is very slow and it should not take so long," said Werner Claassen of the smaller United Democratic Front.

An observer team comprising parliamentarians from neighbouring countries in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) agreed, saying that the vote held last Friday and Saturday was "free, transparent and credible" but that the counting process needed improvements.

"The ECN should improve on the counting process so as to ensure timely release of election results to avoid unnecessary tension, anxiety and suspicion," said Andre Pool, leader of the SADC Parliamentary Forum observer team.