April 21, 2004

"Crowded field" in local elections

Seven political parties and nine residents' associations have registered to take part in Namibia's third post-Independence local authority elections next month. The Deputy Director of Elections, Ananias Elago, announced that five political parties had nominated candidates to take part in by-elections in five constituencies in the Omaheke and Otjozondjupa Regions that will also be held next month. Both the local authority elections and the by-elections are scheduled for May 14. In the local authority elections, Swapo is the only party to have nominated candidates for all 46 local authority council elections set to take place.

With no other parties having nominated candidates in two of the towns - Outapi in the Omusati Region and the newly-proclaimed town of Helao Nafidi (which encompasses Oshikango, Engela and Ohangwena) in the Ohangwena Region - the Swapo candidates at those towns are set to be declared elected unopposed to their local authority councils. At most other towns throughout Namibia, the ruling party will face challenges from several other political parties, as well as from associations that have been formed by local residents.

The only two-way contests scheduled to take place in the local authority elections will be between Swapo and the DTA at Ongwediva - where the Congress of Democrats (CoD) is reported to have missed the registration deadline - and at Eenhana, Lüderitz and Bethanie.

Among the towns heading for three-way poll contests between Swapo, the CoD and the DTA are Ondangwa, Oshakati and Rundu. The DTA has registered candidates in 43 towns, the CoD in 36 towns, the UDF in 17 towns, and the two DTA-breakaway parties, Nudo and the Republican Party, in 16 and 10 towns respectively. A newcomer to the political scene, the Namibia Democratic Movement for Change (CDM) has nominated candidates in one town only - at Witvlei, situated between Windhoek and Gobabis. Residents' associations are fielding candidates at Katima Mulilo, Otavi, Otjiwarongo, Omaruru, Henties Bay, Swakopmund, Gobabis and in Windhoek.

The capital will see the most crowded ballot papers, with six political parties - Swapo, the CoD, DTA, UDF, Nudo and RP - and two residents' associations - the Local Community Association, and the Ada /Gui Senior Citizens and Destitute Children's Association - having registered to contest the local authority poll. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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