- "He has done it!," a beaming Namibian President, Sam Nujoma, declared of the ruling party's presidential candidate Hifikepunye Pohamba at celebrations in Parliament Gardens yesterday. President-elect Pohamba, like President Nujoma in past elections, garnered more votes than his party, capping a runaway victory by the ruling SWAPO party in the general election.
Earlier yesterday, SWAPO was declared the winner of the parliamentary elections, but failed to increase its presence in the National Assembly, retaining its 55 seats. The two main opposition parties, the Congress of Democrats (CoD) and the DTA of Namibia, were left licking their wounds - both lost seats.
Despite winning more votes than in 1999, the CoD saw its seats drop from seven to five, while the DTA could only manage four seats, down from its present seven. The United Democratic Front (UDF) increased its seats to three, up from two and Monitor Action Group (MAG) surprised friend and foe by holding on to its one seat.
Both those parties almost doubled their votes in an election marked by a very high (around 84 percent) turnout of voters. Newcomers National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO) and the Republican Party (RP) made it to the National Assembly. The DTA was also the only party that saw its votes drop below the levels of 1999.
This year's elections were regarded as a milestone as they mark the departure of the country's founding president, Sam Nujoma. In the presidential ballot, Hifikepunye Pohamba more than equalled SWAPO's popularity - leading the pack with 76.4 percent of the vote.
He was followed by the CoD's Ben Ulenga with 7.3 percent. Katuutire Kaura (DTA) filled third place with 5.1 percent, while Kuaima Riruako of Nudo scored 4.2 percent and Justus Garoeb of the UDF, 3.8 percent.
At yesterday's final election ceremony, the voting process was declared "free, fair and transparent" by the Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Namibia, Victor Tonchi.
Mr Tonchi said they had been disappointed by the slow counting process, which resulted in the results of the Monday-Tuesday election only being released officially yesterday. "We will address the slow counting. That needs to be improved," he said.
In his victory speech, President-elect Pohamba said he was humbled by the five-year mandate given to him and promised to be a full-time servant of the Namibian people irrespective of their political background.
President Nujoma declared Pohamba the President-elect for all Namibians and not just for SWAPO. He called on Namibians to "put party political differences aside and to work together."
The announcement of the election results have been the most drawn-out in Namibia's brief history of democratic elections. Although the media were provided with sheets indicating that SWAPO collected 620,787 votes in the National Assembly elections, Elections Director Phillemon Kanime read out that the ruling party collected 619,066 votes.
The high number of 813,955 ballots was counted and divided by 72 - the number of National Assembly seats - to arrive at the quota of 11,305 needed for a party to secure a seat.
Mr Pohamba said he was deeply touched by the comments of various opposition party leaders who not only accepted defeat but also promised to work with his Government for the next five years.
The DTA's Katuutire Kaura said democracy was the victor. He declared the elections free and fair and said Namibia had truly come of age. "We will assist whenever possible. You can count on us," he told the gathering.
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