WINDHOEK (Reuters) – Namibia’s incumbent President Hage Geingob has won the 2019 presidential election with 56.3% of the vote, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) said on Saturday, surviving the country’s biggest corruption scandal, an economic recession and a fractured ruling party.
FILE PHOTO: File photo: Namibia’s incumbent President Hage Geingob has won the 2019 presidential election with 56.3% of the vote, the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) said on Saturday Nov. 30, 2019. He is pictured here at the World Economic Forum in Cape Town, South Africa, September 5, 2019. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham/File Photo
Geingob, Namibia’s third leader since the sparsely populated and mostly arid country freed itself from the shackles of apartheid South Africa in 1990, was seeking a second and final term in the Nov. 27 election.
First elected in 2014 with 87% of the vote, Geingob garnered 56.3% together with his former liberation movement, the SWAPO Party, and avoided a potential re-run against a member of his own party, Panduleni Itula, who was running as an independent.
Itula, a dentist-turned-politician, trailed behind with 29.4% of the vote, and the leader of the official opposition party, McHenry Venaani, was in third position with 5.3%.
Geingob told cheering crowds after the announcement that he was proud that the elections were free and fair.
“I am just a proud Namibian that we could have free and fair elections, no fighting, no attacking each other, free movement was allowed,” said Geingob.
In the legislative vote to choose 96 members of parliament, the ruling party lost its two thirds majority after the ruling party secured 63 seats, down from 77 seats, while the official opposition party, Venaani’s Popular Democratic Movement (PDM) party, will hold 16 seats, improving from its 2014 total of five in the legislative chamber.
Opposition leader Venaani told Reuters that they were considering approaching the courts over “anomalies and irregularities” during the election.
The ECN had previously said the vote-tallying would take 48 hours, but it announced the winner after 72 hours, raising concerns over the potential for vote rigging.
A sputtering economy, one of Namibia’s worst-ever droughts and the biggest corruption scandal in its history have weighed on support for Geingob.
The economy has been stuck in a recession for the nearly three years, marred by a drought that ravaged agricultural export crops, as well as by unprofitably low prices for Namibia’s main hard commodities, uranium and diamonds.
A scandal, in which two ministers were alleged to have conspired to dole out fishing licenses to Iceland’s biggest fishing firm, Samherji, in return for kickbacks, also has taken the shine off the ruling party.
Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa; Writing by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Pravin Char and Bernadette Baum