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Namibia Modern History

In March 1990, the independent nation of Namibia was proclaimed. The former liberation movement Swapo had already formed government and its leader Sam Nujoma had been elected president. The government invested in national unity and social and economic development with the help of foreign investment. The country has remained politically stable with the exception of a separatist insurgency in the late 1990s. Swapo has won all elections by a wide margin.

It was after 24 years of armed struggle against South Africa that the socialist Swapo (see Political system) was able to proclaim independence in former South West Africa. This was done with strong support from the world community. Swapo began to implement a national reconciliation policy after years of apartheid politics (see Older history), among other things, not to scare away the whites who held key positions in society. The first government included ministers from various ethnic groups including whites. President Nujoma assured that Namibia would be a mixed economy with market economy elements.

  • ABBREVIATIONFINDER: List of most commonly used acronyms containing Namibia. Also includes historical, economical and political aspects of the country.

Rebellion in Caprivi

Swapo strengthened its position in the following years and the opposition remained weak. The party won the first parliamentary and presidential elections held in 1994. Sam Nujoma was re-elected as president and Swapo strengthened his majority in the National Assembly.

Contemporary History of NamibiaIn the late 1990s, a separatist movement was formed in the Caprivi region in the northeast (now Zambezi, see Geography). The area is isolated from the rest of the country for geographical and historical reasons. Loose-talking people in the strip have close ties to people in neighboring countries and feel overruled by the government in Windhoek. Security forces began to arrest supporters of the uprising and around 2,500 caprives fled to Botswana. Most could return soon. But in 1999, fighting broke out temporarily between separatists and the army. Several people were killed and the president introduced a state of emergency for a few weeks. The security forces arrested several hundred people suspected of sympathizing with the separatists. A legal process for, among other things, treason and murder against over 130 of them has dragged on over time (see Political system). In retrospect, most of them have been sentenced to long prison terms, usually life.

The AIDS epidemic is a difficult crisis

Prior to the 1999 election, it was stated by a constitutional amendment that President Nujoma was not subject to the constitution's restriction to two terms of office, as he took up his first term before the country became independent. Despite growing criticism for power, Swapo won the parliamentary election while Nujoma won the presidential election by a large majority. The newly formed opposition party Democrats Congress (CoD) and the Conservative Democratic Turnhalle Alliance (DTA) each received just under ten percent of the vote.

The spring of 2004 led to drought, floods and the rapid spread of HIV / AIDS to a severe crisis. The UN appealed for disaster relief to Namibia, but had difficulty hearing it. According to the government, about a third of the population depended on emergency aid.

An increasingly hot political issue was the slow pace of redistribution of land from white big owners to black small farmers. In 2004, the government decided to start confiscating land areas for "fair compensation" for the owners (see Agriculture and Fisheries).

Ahead of the November 2004 elections, the big question was for a long time whether "country father", President Sam Nujoma, would try to remain in power, which would have required a new constitutional change. Nujoma, however, refused to stand. The party was expected to appoint Foreign Minister Hipido Hamutenya as his successor, but he was instead fired. Swapo's candidate became the Minister of Land Affairs, Hifikepunye Pohamba, a close ally of Nujoma.

Pohamba becomes president

Pohamba and Swapo won the presidential and national assembly elections, with just over 76 percent of the vote in both cases. The opposition claimed that irregularities had occurred and demanded recalculation of all votes. After several trips, the votes were recalculated but the result was largely the same.

Pohamba took office as president in March 2005. Nujoma remained as party leader and maintained a strong influence over politics. Pohamba gave the anti-corruption priority the highest priority and, among other things, set up an anti-corruption commission. In August of that year, a minister was forced to resign, accused of illegally appropriating state money.

In 2006, several mass graves were found in northern Namibia, with victims of fighting during the Freedom War 1966–1989. The opposition and human rights groups reiterated previous demands for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, similar to that in South Africa, but Swapo continued to act coldly.

Cracks within Swapo in 2007 led to several prominent party representatives jumping off and forming a new party, the Democracy and Progress Collection (RDP). One of the founders of the new party was Hipido Hamutenya, who was challenged before the 2004 elections (see above).

Swapo continues to dominate

After 47 years as party leader, Sam Nujoma resigned at Swapo's congress at the end of 2007. President Pohamba assumed the chair of the party. His successor as vice chairman was Hage Geingob, who also received a ministerial post in 2008.

In the 2009 presidential election, Pohamba received support from 76.4 percent of voters - in the decimal point the same vote share as in the previous election. Hamutenya came in second with just over 11 percent of the vote. Swapo also maintained his dominance in Parliament. The opposition claimed that the election fraud occurred and went to court to appeal. After several legal trips, the Supreme Court rejected the opposition parties' complaints in 2012.

At the end of 2012, Geingob was re-elected as Swapo's Deputy Party Chairman and shortly thereafter was also elected Prime Minister, a post he also held in 1990-2012. This made it clear that Geingob was meant to be Swapo's candidate in the 2014 presidential election.

 
 

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