Nam elections free and fair - observers

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Timo Shihepo

Windhoek - The heads of international electoral observation missions to the 2019 Namibian presidential and national assembly elections have so far declared them as having been free and fair. 

In a joint press conference at the Country Club Hotel on Friday, the SADC Electoral Observation Mission (SEOM), African Union Electoral Observation Mission (AUEOM), Commonwealth Electoral Observation Mission, and the Electoral Commissions Forum of SADC countries (ECF-SADC) have said in their preliminary findings, despite the difficulties observed, the elections have been free and fair.

The observers gave preliminary findings from the point of voter’s registration until the point of voting. Final reports on full findings will be made after full results have been announced.

Head of SEOM to Namibia, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, said the political and security environment in the pre-election and election period was calm and peaceful, with no visible security risk that could adversely affect the conduct of elections.

The SEOM observed campaign activities which included rallies, roadshows and other events by contesting political parties and candidates

The SEOM, however, urged the National Assembly to consider amending the Electoral Act to ensure that the votes from special voting are counted together with those from the main election in order to minimise speculation and undue influence on voters. The mission also recommended that special voting takes place closer to the date of the main election.

On the controversial electronic voting machines (EVMs), Muchinguri-Kashiri said given the concerns surrounding the use of EVMs without a verifiable paper trail as provided for in the Electoral Act, the mission recommends that the relevant authorities take the necessary steps to give effect to the provisions of the Electoral Act.

“Based on the mission’s interactions, this may contribute to increasing public confidence in the electoral system, and in the use of EVMs in particular,” she said.   

Head of AUEOM to Namibia, Ernest Bai Koroma, said despite the process being free and fair, it had challenges such as long queues, polls not opening on time, voter’s verification taking time, whereby polling staff had to resort to manual searching of names.

“EVMs were also malfunctioning but overall and thus far, the preliminary findings reveal that the elections were free and fair,” he said.

Head of Commonwealth Electoral Observation Mission to Namibia, Musa Mwenye, said despite some glitches, Namibia will continue to be an inspiration to other African states and worldwide as far as democracy is concerned.  

Head of ECF-SADC to Namibia, Emmanuel Magade, said the election environment was generally tranquil with all political parties campaigning freely save for a few isolated incidents, which in the mission’s opinion, had no overall bearing on the credibility of the elections in general.

“However, some polling stations, especially tents, were considered small and there was congestion. However, the layout of the polling stations did not compromise the secrecy of the ballot,” he said.

The presidential and national assembly elections were held on 27 November and results are expected to be released within three days after the polls closed.

 

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