President Hage Geingob was holding an early lead late Thursday as the country’s Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) continued to count votes in this week’s presidential election.
With roughly a fourth of the southern African nation’s constituencies counted, Geingob and his ruling South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO) party held 55.8 percent of the vote. His strongest challenger, independent Panduleni Itula, had 21.4 percent of votes cast while the third-place candidate, Bernardus Swartbooi of the Landless People’s Movement (LPM) was at 7.9 percent.
Geingob has pressed advantage as the candidate to whom SWAPO remains loyal, while fending off concerns over Namibia’s struggling economy and a major corruption scandal that blew up days before the election. Itula, a dentist and longtime SWAPO member, emerged from internal party clashes as a challenger with a progressive, youth-oriented vision for Namibia’s stagnant economy.
The incumbent received 92.5 percent of the vote during 2014 elections, but Namibians are turning to alternatives in this election, which featured 11 candidates. Most of them have attracted less then 3 percent of the tally each.
The process has been peaceful, with a number of African Union and Southern African Development Community observers on hand. The SADC, which said it sent 53 observers from eight member nations, plans a press conference to discuss election observations in Windhoek on Friday.
Image: Namibian presidency