Namibian govt opens up early lead

2014-11-29 13:01
(Dirk Heinrich, AP)

(Dirk Heinrich, AP)

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Windhoek - The first trickle of results in Namibia's general election gave the ruling SWAPO party a commanding lead on Saturday, as it bids to extend a 24-year grip on power in the vast desert nation.

With a few districts in the north of the country reporting, the Electoral Commission of Namibia said early on Saturday that 73-year-old Prime Minister Hage Geingob was winning the presidential vote with 77% and his closest rival trailing in single digits.

Namibian voters cast their ballots late into the night on Friday, in an election billed as Africa's first e-vote.

Benjamin Ulenga, who was trailing in fourth place in the presidential race, on Saturday called for the vote to be annulled and for the head of the electoral commission to resign.

"The current elections have been a sham and a complete fiasco," he said in a statement.

"We call for the immediate resignation of Professor Paul Isaak as director of elections, the calling off of the current sham process; and for the holding of what will be truly credible, fair and worthy elections on the nearest possible date."

Fierce desert sun

Opposition parties had launched an 11th-hour court challenge to stop the electronic vote from going ahead days before the election, saying the use of the voting machines could facilitate vote rigging.

But the Windhoek High Court dismissed the application.

Throughout voting day polling stations saw a large turnout, with countless thousands waiting in the fierce desert sun to vote, using hats, newspapers or umbrellas for shade.

By nightfall many hundreds were still waiting to cast their ballot.

"We have been told to allow everyone who is here a vote," said the presiding officer at Van Rhyn School in the capital city Windhoek, two hours after polls were scheduled to close.

Namibians were choosing 96 members for the national assembly and one of nine presidential candidates.

Read more on:    swapo  |  hage geingob  |  namibia  |  southern africa

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