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Namibia - 2019 Elections

Namibias ruling party SWAPO held an elective congress in November 2017. SWAPO, which had maintained political dominance since coming to power in 1990 at independence, elected incumbent countrys President Hage Geingob as the partys president. With no meaningful opposition in sight, Geingob is most likely to become Head of State for the next five years after his first term ends in 2019.

The constitution provides for freedom of expression, including for the press, and the government generally respected these rights. An independent press, an effective judiciary, and a functioning democratic political system combined to promote freedom of expression, including for the press. Independent media were active and expressed a wide variety of views without restriction.

No laws limit participation of women and members of minorities in the political process, and they did participate. Ruling party policy -- the Zebra system -- provides for 50 percent of Swapo candidates for parliament to be women. Virtually all of the countrys ethnic minorities had representatives in parliament and in senior positions in the cabinet. The president is from the minority Damara ethnic group. Historic economic and educational disadvantages, however, limited the participation in politics of some ethnic groups, such as the San and Himba.

Even though Namibia is dominated by a single party - with SWAPO ruling since independence and winning elections with overwhelming majority, the elective congress that took place in 2017 showed that inside SWAPO democratic discussions are possible: several teams were running and competed for the top four positions in the party - in this sense "one party SWAPO democracy" in Namibia is clearly balanced by internal SWAPO democracy. It is noteworthy that women attained the positions of Vice President and Secretary General.

As in previous years, the overall Human Rights situation in Namibia was satisfactory in 2017. The government's Harambee Prosperity Plan speeded up the legislative process in the area of good governance. A Bill on Whistle Blower Protection and a Bill on Witness Protection were signed by the President on 6 October and a first draft of an Access to Information Bill has been discussed with selected NGOs.

Unemployment, poverty and social inequality continue to be key challenges for the country and also affect the human rights situation. In this context, the slow progress with land reform and limited access and availability of land to a major part of the population has stirred growing political opposition to the government's policies. The Landless People Movement intends to register as a party and run in the 2019 national elections.





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