afrol News, 22 April - Namibian President Sam Nujoma delivered what he called his fourteenth and "final" state of the nation address. President Nujoma thus put an end to speculations on whether to amend the constitution of Namibia to allow him to stand candidate for a fourth term in this year's elections.
Mr Nujoma, Namibia's first and only President since independence in 1990, let the cat out of the bag in the beginning remarks of his long speech, held in Parliament in Windhoek yesterday afternoon. "I stand before this joint session of parliament to deliver, what will go down in history of our country as the last State of the Nation Address by the founding president of the Republic of Namibia," the 75-year-old told MPs.
The Namibian President during the last two years has highly contributed to speculations that he may run for a fourth five-year term in the November elections. Only recently, Mr Nujoma said he would bow into the popular demand of Namibians if they urged him to continue to serve his nation, provoking pro-Nujoma demonstrations.
A possible fourth term however would have necessitated changing Namibia's young constitution and caused concern about undemocratic tendencies in line with developments in the region, such as in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi. Already in advance of the 1999 presidential poll, Namibia's constitution was amended to allow for a third presidential term, but only for "the founding president of the Republic of Namibia." Mr Nujoma was re-elected with 77 percent of the votes in 1999.
President Nujoma's SWAPO party, which led the Namibian independence struggle against apartheid South Africa, has a sufficiently large majority in parliament to change the constitution.
Although elections already are to be held in November this year, the ruling party yet has to decide on its candidate for the Namibian presidency. Many SWAPO members had hoped Mr Nujoma would go for a fourth term. Next month, the ruling party is to celebrate a congress to elect its candidate, who may also become the new SWAPO leader, if Mr Nujoma decides to step down from this post as well.
The President yesterday said he was confident the nation would be able to find a good leader after he steps down. "I will leave office with the full confidence that the new Head of State, who will emerge after the November elections, will continue to build on the foundation that we have collectively laid and will lead this proud nation to greater economic heights," Mr Nujoma said in his speech.
The President's speech was heavily applauded and found many "words of praise," especially from the opposition, the independent 'Namibian' reports from the Windhoek parliament. Opposition leader Katuutire Kaura expressed his DTA party's gratitude for the "unequalled statesmanship" that Mr Nujoma had shown. "Your spirit will guide Namibia for another thousand years to come," Mr Kaura continued, adding "Namibia will never forget you."
Also Ben Ulenga, leader of the smaller CoD opposition party, reacted with words of appreciation in parliament after President Nujoma's speech, 'The Namibian' reports. He said Namibia had the good fortune to have had Mr Nujoma "as one of its most illustrious sons." For almost 50 years the country had had the benefit of a leadership role having been fulfilled by Mr Nujoma, Mr Ulenga reminded Namibian MPS, referring to Mr Nujoma's role in the independence struggle and his 14-year presidency.
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