Swapo sweeps to poll success

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The Independent Online
President Sam Nujoma yesterday pledged a referendum on any proposed constitutional changes after winning a free hand in Namibia's general election to amend the constitution.

The first change the Southwest Africa People's Organisation (Swapo) is expected to seek, now its parliamentary majority is more than two-thirds, is to lift a ban on a third presidential term and allow Mr Nujoma, 65, to contest the next scheduled elections in 1999.

Last week's polls, Namibia's first since pre-independence elections in 1989, saw Swapo win at least 70 per cent of the presidential vote for the presidency and the national assembly, giving it an estimated 50 of the 72 seats compared with 42 now. The Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA), the main opposition party, won 22.3 per cent and the United Democratic Front only 2.81 per cent.

Mr Nujoma, a former guerrilla leader who guided his country to independence from South Africa in 1990, thrashed his sole challenger, Mishake Muyongo, by a 71.5 to 25.8 per cent, according to provisional results.

Swapo won massive support in the north among the Ovambo people, who account for more than 50 per cent of the country's 1.5 million people. In some areas, it took 99 per cent of the vote. One candidate, the DTA vice-president Katuutire Kaura, said Namibiawas heading for a "tribal democracy."

The opposition failed to dent Swapo's image of having maintained peace and stability or to present an alternative programme. On Saturday, Mr Nujoma said: "We are fighters. We are manufacturing weapons and ammunition against the new enemies...poverty, hunger, disease and ignorance."