January 25, 2008

War veterans “pacified” after meeting with President

President Hifikepunye Pohamba's almost three-hour-long meeting with an association of disgruntled war veterans ended on a high note for the group, when they apparently decided to put to rest all their grievances against Government. Association spokesperson Alex Kamwi said that threats by the group to refrain from voting in the next elections, and that they intended to organise a similar demonstration to one they held in 2007, had now been withdrawn. According to Kamwi, Pohamba used the opportunity to clear the air around statements allegedly made from Government's side against the group and emphasised a need to communicate better with them than in the past. "We explained our reasons for saying what we did last year, because some people had been saying we were never called to go into exile. We were assured this was said in mistake," Kamwi said.
The group last year expressed unhappiness with Government's statement that no one had been forced into joining the armed struggle for the country's liberation, and that joining the People's Liberation Army of Namibia (Plan) was a voluntary decision with no monetary compensation promised. "To all ex-fighters, let's forget the things that were said last year, like that we are not Swapo. These were all mistakes, and the President made it clear that if it weren't for us calling on his door, the Ministry (of Veterans' Affairs) would not have been formed," Kamwi said. He also noted his association was now waiting for the Ministry of Veterans' Affairs to complete the process of registering all war veterans, especially since Government had revealed it plans to increase the monthly grant veterans receive. Government did not disclose to the association by how much it would increase this monthly grant, Kamwi said. (The Namibian, Windhoek)

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