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Africa
Namibia begins vote count
Governing party Swapo is expected to win presiential and parliamentary elections.
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2009 07:13

Final results from the polls are not
expected until Wednesday [AFP]

Polling stations in Namibia have closed after two days of voting, with the ruling the South West African People's Organisation, or Swapo, expected to stay in power.

Voting in presidential and parliamentary elections ended on Saturday and with final results in the diamond and uranium-producing nation expected on Wednesday, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) said.

"First results should come in around noon on Sunday ... but it may take until Wednesday to know the total numbers," Theo Mujoro, the ECN's deputy director of operations, said.

Hifikepunye Pohamba, Namibia's president, is seeking a second five-year term and hoping for a decisive win for Swapo, the country's former guerilla movement.

Yet the vote may see the Swapo's long hold on power in the southern African desert nation weakening with the emergence of a new opposition party, the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP).

The RDP, the main opposition party headed by Hidipo Hamutenya, a former foreign minister, is capitalising on growing dissatisfaction with Swapo after a spate of corruption scandals, including one involving the son of China's president.

'Nepotism and corruption'

Emile van Zyl, executive director of research for financial services company Simonis Storm Securities, said: "If you enjoy an absolute majority with no resistance from opposition for too long, problems such as nepotism and corruption may become major issues."

"If you enjoy an absolute majority with no resistance from opposition for too long, problems such as nepotism and corruption may become major issues"

Emile van Zyl,
executive director of research at Storm Securities

He said a stronger opposition would be good for the country as long as it does not lead to instability.

Swapo and the RDP are the biggest of the 14 parties contesting the election, with the latter claiming about 250,000 supporters from an estimated 1.1 million voters.

Analysts believe that a landslide victory for Swapo, which won the last elections with 75 per cent of the vote, may be less convincing this time round.

"While the RDP won't be able to challenge Swapo's rule, it will be able to take a few votes, minimizing the percentage of parliamentary seats the former liberation movement has," Judy Smith-Hohn, from the South African-based Institute for Security Studies, said.

There were clashes between Swapo and the RDP supporters prior to the poll.

High unemployment

Namibia, a former German colony that was governed by neighbouring South Africa during the apartheid era, is seen as a peaceful and stable democracy. 

Although rich in diamond and uranium deposits, about 40 per cent of  the nearly two million Namibians live below the poverty line.

Unemployment is high and Aids has had a devastating effect especially on the indigenous San Bushmen.

But the government has been praised for its sound economic policies and for making strides in broadening access to education and health care.

Source:
Agencies
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