Omuthiya Elections Likely in September

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By Kuvee Kangueehi

Windhoek

The Omuthiya Local Authority Council elections, which have been on and off since February are now likely to take place in September.

The elections for seven councillors for the small northern town have proved to be a stern test for the Electoral Commission of Namibia (ECN) and did not only lead to the abrupt postponement of the elections but also triggered the suspension of top four employees of the ECN.

The ECN employees included its director Philemon Kanime and his number two, Ananias Elago.

A senior official in the ECN informed New Era on Friday that the ECN is now planning to conduct the elections in September after they received a legal opinion from the Attorney General’s Office.

The source who spoke on condition of anonymity said the Attorney General’s Office gave the ECN two options namely, to start the entire election process and to conduct a supplementary election.

The second option is for the ECN to start the election process from the point of nominating candidates and not to conduct supplementary elections.

The source said the AG’s Office, however, recommended that a supplementary registration be held because there are definitely a number of residents at the newly declared town that turned 18 since February, when the first elections were called off.

The AG’s Office further warned that the supplementary elections will open a can of worms, as it will allow people that were disqualified an opportunity to register again and some political parties will definitely not be happy.

The source said the ECN is extra careful dealing with Omuthiya and will not recommend a date to the President again before all the legal loopholes that may arise from conducting the elections have been plugged.

After the postponement of the elections at the end of February, the ECN recommended May 16, 2008 but backtracked after the newly formed party, Rally for Democracy and Progress, threatened to take the ECN to court for flouting some statutory laws of the Electoral Act.

The source, however, denied that the hold up of the Omuthiya Local Authority elections is delaying the Otjinene elections and noted that the ECN is still waiting to be notified by the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development.

The source noted that although Otjinene and Omuthiya were proclaimed towns at the same time, they were informed by the Ministry of Regional and Local Government, Housing and Rural Development that the mapping of Otjinene was not complete. Thus the ECN is awaiting a notice from the ministry.

Contacted for comment, the Chairperson of the ECN, Victor Tonchi, said the dates and procedures to be followed for the Omuthiya elections are still under discussion and he cannot reveal a date yet.

“What I can assure you is that the Omuthiya Local Authority elections will take place.”

The acting director of the ECN, Moses Ndjarakana, could not be reached for comment.

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