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NAMIBIA: "Democracy has won," says opposition as court orders vote recount

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    ... From: IRIN [mailto:IRIN@irinnews.org] Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2005 11:31 AM To: RE Ausetkmt Subject: NAMIBIA: Democracy has won, says opposition as
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 10, 2005
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      -----Original Message-----
      From: IRIN [mailto:IRIN@...]
      Sent: Thursday, March 10, 2005 11:31 AM
      To: RE Ausetkmt
      Subject: NAMIBIA: "Democracy has won," says opposition as court orders
      vote recount


      NAMIBIA: "Democracy has won," says opposition as court orders vote
      recount

      [This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United
      Nations]


      WINDHOEK, 10 March (IRIN) - Two Namibian opposition parties won a court
      ruling on Thursday ordering a recount of the ballots from last year's
      election.

      Judge President Petrus Damaseb said the recount should start within five
      days of the judgement, with the results announced on 20 March - one day
      before Namibia's new government is to be sworn in.

      He set aside the application by the opposition Congress of Democrats
      (CoD) and the Republican Party (RP) to have the polls declared null and
      void, but the Electoral Commission, a government body, was ordered to
      pay the legal costs of the parties.

      "This is a wonderful victory," said Carola Engelbrecht,
      secretary-general of the RP. "Democracy has won, and the ruling
      indicates that the judiciary is really independent from the executive,"
      she told IRIN.

      "We now have a lot of work ahead of us, should the recount of some
      830,000 votes start on Monday as the High Court ordered," said Tsudao
      Gurirab, national chairman of CoD. "There is not much time, if results
      are to be announced by 20 March."

      Election director Philemon Kanime said the Electoral Commission would
      "do as the court said", while Attorney General Pendukeni Ithana, who
      attended all the hearings, said she first had to study the four-page
      judgement in detail.

      "This judgement shows the democratic process is at work, and we will see
      if we will appeal," she told IRIN.

      Namibia celebrates its 15th independence anniversary on 21 March, when
      President Sam Nujoma's elected successor, Hifikepunye Pohamba, and new
      cabinet ministers will be sworn in.

      Pohamba and the ruling SWAPO party won a landslide victory on 21
      November 2004 election, but the opposition alleged the voters' roll was
      inflated, and the unusually high turnout of around 85 percent was
      "questionable". The discovery of 22 abandoned ballot papers, some of
      them half burnt, all cast in favour of opposition parties, was also
      seized on as evidence of irregularities.

      SWAPO, which led Namibia's struggle against South African colonial rule,
      has resoundingly won each election since independence in 1990.



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      Copyright (c) UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
      2005

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