Elections Underway in Namibia

Polling started on Friday morning in Namibia’s fifth post-independence presidential and national assembly elections.

Over 1.2 million registered voters are expected to cast their ballots at nearly 4 000 polling stations across the country, which opened from 7am and would close at 9pm.

At around 8am, incumbent Namibian President Hifikepunye Pohamba and his wife cast their votes at a primary school in capital Windhoek, using an Electronic Voting Machine (EVM) imported from India.

In an interview after his voting, Pohamba said he believed the new technology was more efficient than other systems.

Ruling Swapo party’s Presidential Candidate, Prime Minister Hage Geingob also voted at around 10am at a different polling station in the Katutura suburb of Windhoek.

Namibia has become the first African country to use EVMs in elections, which helps shorten the voting process to one day.

However, some polling stations experienced delays due to technical glitch.

The EVMs also sparked controversy from some opposition parties, who complained that the new method would leave no paper trail and that the ruling Swapo party was trying to “rig” the elections.

The High Court of Windhoek on Wednesday dismissed an urgent appeal by the opposition Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) to requesting the court to postpone the elections over concerns on EVMs.

A total of 4 160 EVMs have been deployed in 121 constituencies of Namibia’s 14 regions, according to the Electoral Commission of Namibia.

South Africa’s International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane is in Namibia to join the SADC Election Observer Mission (SEOM), which is observing the conduct of the polls.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane is representing President Jacob Zuma, who is the Chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation which is responsible for the maintenance of peace and stability in the region.

The SEOM has deployed 95 observers constituted into 23 teams in all the 14 regions of Namibia to observe the conduct of the elections and assess the extent to which the SADC Guidelines and Principles Governing Democratic Elections are followed.

It is expected that the SEOM will release its preliminary report on the 2014 Presidential and National Assembly elections in Namibia on Sunday.

SAnews.gov.za-Xinhua

Source : SAnews.gov.za