March 4, 2003

Nujoma: "No forth term"

Namibian President Sam Nujoma's recent announcement that he will step down before the next presidential elections will open the "floodgates" for the presidential race, an opposition leader said March 3.

President Nujoma announced at the end of February in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia that he will not serve a fourth term of office as Head of State because the Namibian Constitution did not allow for a fourth presidential term. Nujoma said this in response to a question on the closing day of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Opposition DTA leader Katuutire Kaura welcomed Nujoma's announcement saying "the playing field will be levelled for the first time" (in Namibia's presidential election campaign).

Nujoma said in Malaysia that ruling party SWAPO did not have anybody in mind to succeed him but that there were enough capable and tested leaders in the party to take over as both the party and national leader.

Kaura said with the most popular Namibian leader out of the race it increased the DTA's chances of leading the country for the first time since independence. "We (DTA) are going to contest the next presidential elections with vigour and energy and we intend to win this presidential election," said Kaura in an interview. "I think the pronouncement of the President has opened up the floodgates. Even those ones (within SWAPO) who wanted to gun for the presidency could not do so because they were afraid to offend the old man. Now the floodgates are opened," he said. Kaura said he could not understand Nujoma's silence when traditional leaders were asking him to run for another term. "Now that he has broken that silence it is very clear to anybody that he respects the Namibian Constitution and that he is prepared to operate within the confines of the Constitution," Kaura said.

The Congress of Democrats (CoD) leader Ben Ulenga said he received Nujoma's announcement "with a pinch of salt". "Nujoma may not want to be seen to be disrespecting the Constitution but other people whose political survival depend on him may use channels outside the Swapo party to strengthen the call for the fourth term," said Ulenga. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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