Friday, July 3, 2020

Namibia: Commonwealth says poll was ‘peaceful and orderly’

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Namibia’s election on 27 November was carried out in a largely peaceful and orderly manner, according to an interim statement issued by the Commonwealth observers who were deployed to the country.

The group noted that the 2019 Presidential and National Assembly Elections – the sixth multiparty elections since Namibia‘s independence – were the most competitive in the country’s electoral history.

Issuing the Group’s preliminary statement in Windhoek, the Chair of the Observer Group, former Attorney General of Zambia Musa Mwenye, said: “We observed that the processing of voters remains slow, thereby resulting in an arduous polling experience for many voters, with lengthy queues and voting extending well beyond close of polls.

“All voters who were still in the queue at close of polls at 9pm were allowed to vote, in accordance with the law.

“The average time for processing of a voter is approximately four minutes. In this respect, we encourage the Electoral Commission of Namibia to explore practical options to expedite the process, without undermining electoral integrity.”

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Mr Mwenye said: “We were particularly impressed by the large numbers of women and youth who participated in the electoral process as candidates (including through party lists), voters, polling staff, party monitors and citizen observers. While these groups’ participation was commendable, we do encourage further action to enhance their effective participation in political and state institutions.”

The observer group called on the Election Commission of Namibia, political parties, civil society and other electoral stakeholders to engage in post-election, inclusive dialogue on how to resolve the issue of the lack of a verifiable paper trail ahead of future elections, whilst also stressing the need to invest more in voter education.

The group underscored the need for all stakeholders to remain patient and tolerant, while the Electoral Commission of Namibia concludes the results processes.

The Group’s final report will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General and subsequently made available to the Government of Namibia, political parties, the Election Commission and the public.

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