April 14, 2004

Election dates set

The way has been paved for what have been billed as the country's most important polls since Independence with the announcement of the dates for the national and presidential elections, which will take place on November 15, and 16. The Presidential elections are scheduled to see Namibians vote for their second President. Minister of Local and Regional Government and Housing, Joel Kaapanda, also revealed that Regional Council elections were scheduled for November 29 and 30. He emphasised that it had been decided not to hold national, Presidential and Regional Council polls on the same dates to avoid confusing voters. The tendered vote system - voting in an area other than where the elector is registered - has also been cited as problematic for holding all the elections simultaneously. Voters in Regional Council elections are required to vote in the constituency where they are registered. He did, however, say that his Ministry still intended to introduce further amendments to existing legislation to reduce the term of office of regional councillors from six to five years. The move was foiled last year when the National Council refused to agree to this proposition, fearing that it could lead to the dissolution of the House. Kaapanda could not say whether these amendments would be tabled before or after the elections, but said new incumbents could prepare themselves for a five-year term. The Minister also announced that school buildings would not be used as voting stations and, as a result, schools would not be disrupted during the poll periods. (The Namibian, Windhoek)


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