Ruling party ahead in Namibia vote count

Governing SWAPO party nominees lead as country counts votes of presidential and parliamentary polls.

More than 53 percent of the registered voters turned out to vote on Friday [AFP]
More than 53 percent of the registered voters turned out to vote on Friday [AFP]

The presidential candidate of Namibia’s ruling party is leading by a wide margin in preliminary results from elections that also sees ruling party lead in parliamentary vote.

Hage Geingob, the current prime minister and presidential candidate for the ruling SWAPO party, was ahead with 81 percent of the vote with less than one percent of the vote declared on Saturday.

Geingob’s nearest rival is Hidipo Hamutenya, a former ruling party member who formed an opposition group, the Rally for Democracy and Progress. He had nearly seven percent of the vote, according to election officials.

Final results from Friday’s elections were expected later on Saturday.

About 1.2 million Namibians, about half the population, were eligible to vote in Friday’s elections at several thousand polling stations, which are using electronic voting machines for the first time, instead of the old ballot paper system.

More than 53 percent of voters turned out to cast their votes.

Sixteen political parties and nine presidential candidates were in the race.

The winner will succeed President Hifikepunye Pohamba, who is stepping down after serving two five-year terms.

Namibia enjoys political stability and benefits from major diamond and uranium reserves as well as revenue from tourists drawn to its stark landscapes.

Geingob has acknowledged Namibia still has high poverty and lacks adequate health facilities.

Geingob would be the first president from the ethnic Damara minority.

Pohamba, the current president, belongs to the Ovambo, the biggest ethnic group in Namibia.

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