February 29, 2008

Omuthiya local elections postponed

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has announced the postponement of the Omuthiya Local Authority elections that were scheduled for the end of February, after political parties raised a combined 54 objections over non-eligible voters. As political fervour rose in the battle for control of the northern town, Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) lodged a complaint with the Ondangwa Magistrates' Court alleging that 42 names on the voter's list belonged to individuals who did not reside in Omuthiya. At the same time, Swapo Party lodged a complaint with a list of 12 names allegedly belonging to non-eligible voters. RDP, Swapo and Congress of Democrats (CoD) were also scheduled to contest the Omuthiya local. Chairperson of the ECN, Victor Tonchi, announced that the elections were postponed following objections on the voter's roll. "The Electoral Commission of Namibia understands the importance of safeguarding the democratic process and the rule of law. The commission regrets the inconvenience caused by this postponement," he said.
In the meantime, the magistrate will give persons against whom the objections were made 15 days from date of notice to make their representation. Based on that, the magistrate will determine whether to remove such individuals from the list or not. "Only after the magistrate has made a ruling will the ECN be in a position to proceed with the elections," Tonchi added. This means the election dates will again have to be determined at a later stage. "Depending on time, there might be no need for supplementary voter's registration," he said.
The alleged irregularities that marred the local authority elections in Omuthiya have prompted some sectors of society to call for the resignation of the Director of Elections, Phillemon Kanime. This is mainly due to the controversy surrounding the voter's list. It is alleged that there are two voter's lists in circulation, both indicating different numbers of registered voter's for the postponed elections. (New Era, Windhoek)

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