Monday, November 30, 2009

Namibia Opposition Parties Mull Legal Action As Results Trickle In

Namibia opposition parties mull legal action as results trickle in

Mon Nov 30, 3:30 PM

WINDHOEK (AFP) - Opposition parties threatened legal action Monday over alleged irregularities in Namibia's general election in which early returns gave the ruling party a comfortable lead.

"Two ballot books disappeared at a primary school in northern Namibia, but we got no comment form the Electoral Commission of Namibia," said Henk Mudge, president of the Republican Party and spokesman for the six aggrieved opposition parties.

"A government vehicle was seen dropping ballot boxes at a school in the capital Windhoek without Police escort in the night from Sunday to Monday," he added.

"The list of irregularities is much longer like the indelible ink washing off from a voter's thumb after voting, creating an opportunity to vote more then once, but we will hand a detailed list of all these to our legal advisors for advice and then consider curt action."

However international observers said the polls held last week were "free and fair".

"I declare that the presidential and National Assembly elections were transparent, credible, peaceful, free and fair," said Francisco Madeira, who headed the observer mission for the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The 15-nation bloc deployed 120 observers across Namibia for the presidential and parliamentary elections held Friday and Saturday.

The ruling South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO), in power since independence in 1990, faced a challenge from the breakaway Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP), but took a lead in the first small batch of returns.

With just under 50,000 votes counted, President Hifikepunye Pohamba took 63.4 percent, against under 12 percent for his nearest rival, RDP leader Hidipo Hamutenya in the presidential vote. The results showed a similar pattern in the parliamentary race.

The SADC observers did recommend that electoral authorities improve their communication, and called for earlier release of the voter roll to "minimize future discrepancies".

The first results were only announced Monday morning, some 36 hours after polls closed on Saturday night.

Meanwhile the RDP has complained that parties were not given enough information about the vote counting process, with new verification centres blamed for holding up the release of results.

Though no major incidents of violence had been reported so far, safety and security minister Nickey Iyambo warned Monday that the police would act swiftly should outbreaks.

"Police will not take it lightly if violence broke out when parties or individuals celebrate their election victories," he said.

"We deal with whoever is found guilty of political violence in the aftermath of the elections, the public should refrain form acts of violence and expressions that might harm or offend political opponents."

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