WINDHOEK – Members of the Namibian Police refused to grant permission to a group of residents in the Caprivi Region who had planned to publicly demand the dismemberment of the eastern region from the rest of Namibia.
Last Friday, the group wrote to Police Inspector-General Sebastian Ndeitunga, expressing their intention to hold a “peaceful demonstration” against the protracted Caprivi high treason trial and to underline their belief that Caprivi is not part of Namibia.
Hundreds of suspects from the Caprivi Region are languishing in Namibian jails for their perceived role in attempting to secede Caprivi in a failed bloody coup attempt in August 1999.
Exiled Namibians are headed by former opposition leader Mishake Muyongo, who also previously served as an MP and to some extent, his relative Boniface Mamili, who in accordance with strict traditions, relinquished his chieftainship when he fled to Botswana.
A statement from the Ministry of Information and Communication Technology states that Ndeitunga refused to grant permission, on grounds the demonstration could cause instability.
The statement issued by the Mi-nister of Information and Communication Technology Joël Kaapanda, stated that in the interest of law and order, Ndeitunga, the Police Inspector-General, refused to grant permission to the so-called peaceful demonstrators because their demands to dismember Caprivi from the rest of Namibia “constitutes a gross violation of our territorial integrity”.
It unclear whether the aborted pro-secessionist march is linked to recent calls across the river in neighbouring Zambia where the Barotse National Council (BNC), comprising 2 000 chiefs, indunas and headmen recently had a meeting where they demanded the secession from Zambia of the Western Province – formerly a British Protectorate
The request for the pro-secession demonstration also came in the same week when the Namibian foreign affairs ministry publicly condemned the secession of some northern parts of Mali by Tuareg rebels.
The Tuaregs captured key Malian cities including the historical Timbuktu, leading to the overthrowing of that country’s president by junior military officers because of what they termed the president’s slow response to the advancement of rebels.
The events in Mali might have inspired proponents of the idea of Caprivi secession, whose initial attempt 13 years ago remains one of the darkest episodes on the post-independence Namibian political calendar.
In his statement about the Mali situation last week, Foreign Affairs Minister Utoni Nujoma said secession of parts of recognized countries violates the African Union’s principles on indivisibility.
Commenting on attempts for peaceful pro-secession demonstrations, information minister and government spokesperson Joël Kaapanda backed Ndeitunga’s decision not to grant permission for the planned demonstration.
“The demonstration would have incited secessionism and could have caused instability in the region,” he said.
He added courts are, by law, independent and government’s intervention in speeding up the long-running trial would be unconstitutional.
Following the attempts of 1999, scores of people fled to Botswana, while a handful more sought refuge in Denmark and Canada, amongst other countries.