News24

Namibia court rejects poll query

2010-03-04 21:15

Windhoek - A Namibian court on Thursday dismissed an application by nine opposition parties contesting last year's election results which gave President Hifikepunye Pohamba's party a landslide victory.

"I order that the case of the nine opposition parties is to be struck from the court roll and that the applicants must pay the costs," High Court judge president Petrus Damaseb told a fully packed courtroom.

He did not give any reasons for the verdict, but said a detailed printed judgement would be provided late on Thursday.

The court sat for two days earlier in the week listening to lawyers.

The two-minute-long reading of the verdict was broadcast live by the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation's (NBC) television and radio stations, the first time ever the high court permitted this.

'Shocked'

Police had cordoned off the street and the area in front of the court building in the centre of Windhoek.

"We are shocked. We did not expect this, but we have to accept the court ruling," said Jeremiah Nambinga, information officer of the Rally for Democracy (RDP) opposition party, the driving force behind the court challenge.

"We can take the matter to the Supreme Court, but we have to discuss that first," Nambinga told reporters.

Opposition parties launched their legal challenge in December, calling for an audit of the election results, which was granted.

The audit included a recount of ballot papers and examination of other election materials, including the voter roll.

The findings gave sufficient grounds for the nine parties to file a case against the Electoral Commission of Namibia in January.

Thirteen opposition parties contested the legislative and presidential elections on November 27 and 28.

The ruling South West Africa People's Organisation (Swapo), in power since independence in 1990, won more than 75% of the votes.

The election was declared by African observers as free and fair.