Namibia court rejects poll challenge due to ‘late filing’

2010-03-05 08:18

A NAMIBIAN court yesterday 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.

The judge cited late filing of the application as the reason for the rejection of the case.

“Late filing is only allowed with proof of exceptional circumstances and the applicants failed to prove that,” said Damaseb.

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 the high court permitted this.

Earlier in the week, the court had sat for two days listening to lawyers.

“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, in power since independence in 1990, won more than 75% of the votes.

African observers declared the election free and fair.
 

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