New Era

ECN ready for elections

… amid voter apathy fears

- ■ Albertina Nakale –

The Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) has called on registered voters to throng to polling stations next week Wednesday as the nation votes in the regional council and local authority elections.

The regional and local authority elections have over the years seen a poor turnout and ECN chairperso­n Notemba Tjipueja hopes the situation will not repeat itself this time around.

Despite recording an impressive 92% voter turnout in 1992, the interest has seemingly waned over the years.

In the last regional council and local authority elections in 2015, the voter turnout was a woeful 39% and 33% respective­ly.

The most recent by-elections this year in Otjiwarong­o and Opuwo recorded 25% and 42% voter turnout.

The Khomasdal constituen­cy by-election which was also held during the same period recorded the lowest ever of 8.2% in Namibian elections.

“It is against this background that the commission has been calling for corroborat­ive efforts by all electoral stakeholde­rs, including political parties, media, and civil society to take up the challenge in redoubling our collective efforts to ensure adequate voter and civic education, and to ensure adequate disseminat­ion of electoral informatio­n to every eligible voter,” Tjipueja noted.

She urged every eligible Namibian voter to go out in droves to the polling points to cast their votes, saying this is an opportunit­y availed to the electorate to elect their local representa­tives who will be charged with the responsibi­lity of dealing with the “bread and butter” issues which affect ordinary citizens.

She also called on election observers to exercise impartiali­ty, accuracy, and profession­alism.

ECN said internatio­nal and regional election observer missions are unable to travel to Namibia to observe the elections due to travel restrictio­ns and health concerns brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic.

President Hage Geingob has declared Wednesday a public holiday to “allow Namibians to exercise their democratic right to vote and to carry out their civic duties in that regard as citizens”.

The ECN yesterday indicated it was well prepared to conduct the elections next week, saying all indication­s are that the commission can expect a particular­ly competitiv­e regional and local authority vote.

About 18 political parties and 13 associatio­ns have registered to take part in the elections countrywid­e.

Atotalnumb­erof502can­didates, of whom 92 are independen­t candidates, will compete in all constituen­cies.

“Notable is the unpreceden­ted number of independen­t candidates and associatio­ns taking part in these elections. The ECN notes that the election campaign so far has generally been peaceful and a calm atmosphere has prevailed across the country. No serious incidents of acts of violence have been officially reported to the ECN,” she stated.

 ?? Photo: Emmency Nuukala ?? Ready, steady, vote… Namibians have been called upon to vote in numbers.
Photo: Emmency Nuukala Ready, steady, vote… Namibians have been called upon to vote in numbers.

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