December 17, 2004

Poll Papers Handed Over

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has acceded to a court order and gave the Congress of Democrats and Republican Party access to election-related documents estimated to amount to thousands of pages. A Government warehouse in Windhoek was the scene for the unprecedented handover of documents that should give a fuller account than presently available of last month's National Assembly and Presidential elections process. High Court Judge Elton Hoff had ordered the Commission to allow the two parties access to the material. The handover was the first of its sort following a national election in Namibia. Judge Hoff also ordered the ECN to pay the parties' legal costs for the court application that it took for them to get access to the information that they had claimed the ECN was legally obliged to give to them.
The requested documents mostly emanate from presiding officers who did duty at 1 168 polling stations throughout Namibia on November 15 and 16, as well as from returning officers in the country's 107 constituencies. CoD Vice President Nora Schimming-Chase's estimate was that the documentation could run to some 6.000 pages. It is through this mountain of material that CoD and RP representatives will have to wade in their search for indications of the sort of systemic election irregularities that would warrant launching a petition to the High Court to challenge the outcome of the poll. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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