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Namibia’s Ruling Party Leads Vote

December 4, 1999

WINDHOEK, Namibia (AP) _ Namibia’s ruling party had 76 percent of the vote in early counting after the southwest African nation’s elections, guaranteeing President Sam Nujoma an even stronger grip on the government.

Election workers were still adding up ballots today, and final results were expected Sunday in the votes for parliament and the presidency.

The early count late Friday showed that the next strongest party after Nujoma’s South West African People’s Organization was the Democratic Turnhalle Alliance, which had taken 10 percent _ half its tally in the 1994 elections. A strong new opposition party, the Congress of Democrats, had 9 percent of the vote so far, apparently taking support from the main opposition party.

In the presidential poll, Nujoma, 70, was streaking ahead with 74 percent. Congress of Democrats’ candidate Ben Ulenga was running second with 12 percent.

Nujoma’s party led Namibia’s 23-year-long struggle for independence from apartheid South Africa and has ruled since 1989. It received 72.7 percent of the parliamentary vote in 1994.

Two days of voting ended Wednesday in Namibia, which is the size of Britain and France combined but has a population of just 1.7 million.

The newly prominent Congress of Democrats has not made significant inroads into the ruling party’s traditional support base of Owambos, an ethnic group that makes up more than half the country’s population, University of Namibia Professor Gerhard Totemeyer said.

Nonetheless, he said, the new opposition party’s strong emergence could have long-lasting affects on Namibian politics, He said some parties might merge, while others would disappear.

The Democratic Turnhalle Alliance, whose supporters include whites, mixed race and ethnic Hereros, was closely allied to the apartheid South African government. It has been unable to shed the baggage of its past, Totemeyer said.

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