Namibia’s president wins another term but support drops

International

In this photo taken on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2019, Namibian President Hage Geingob arrives to cast his vote in Windhoek, Namibia. With more than 85% of votes counted, Namibia’s president is set to win another term and already is thanking voters. The southern African nation’s electoral commission says the president leads with 57% of the vote while the top opposition challenger has 28%. That’s a sharp decrease in support for the president from 87% in the previous election in 2014. Public frustration has been high over corruption scandals and unemployment. (AP Photo/Brandon van Wyk)

WINDHOEK, Namibia (AP) — Namibia’s president won another term Saturday but the longtime ruling party lost its powerful two-thirds majority in its most challenging election since independence nearly 30 years ago.

The southern African nation’s electoral commission said President Hage Geingob received 56% the vote while opposition challenger Dr. Panduleni Itula had 29%. Itula made history as the first independent candidate for the presidency, though he retained his ruling party membership.

The results showed a sharp decrease in support for Geingob from 87% in the previous election in 2014. Public frustration has been high over corruption scandals and unemployment.

“It was a tough campaign,” Geingob said. “I campaigned like hell.”

Itula did not attend the announcement of the final results.

The ruling SWAPO party, which has been in power since independence from South Africa in 1990, received 63% of the vote in the National Assembly race while the Popular Democratic Movement gained seats with 16%. The percentages are roughly equal to the number of seats won. SWAPO won 77 seats in the previous election.

Some 1.3 million voters were registered for Wednesday’s election. Turnout was 60%.

While troubles were reported with some electronic voting machines, a preliminary statement by observer missions called the election free, fair and “generally peaceful.” It said 62% of polling stations opened on time.

Some Namibians expressed frustration over what they considered the slow pace of vote-counting.

“The counting, accuracy and verification process leave us more confused. One would think that the reason why we opted for (electronic voting machines) is for the purposes of effectiveness and efficiency,” political analyst Ndumba Kamwanyah said. “But that really is turning out to be the opposite. It seems we haven’t quite mastered how to use those voting machines to our advantage.”

The ruling SWAPO shortly before the election was shaken by corruption allegations linked to fishing quotas that led two cabinet ministers to resign.

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