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Namibian president set for re-election next month amid economic crisis

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WINDHOEK (Reuters) – Namibians will elect a president on Nov. 27, with Hage Geingob expected to be returned with a reduced margin as voters complain about the worst economic crisis since independence nearly 30 years ago.

Geingob, Namibia’s third president since rule by apartheid South Africa ended in 1990, is seeking a second and final term.

He is being challenged by nine other hopefuls including a member of his own SWAPO party, Panduleni Itula, who is running as an independent. The country will also elect 96 members of parliament.

SWAPO, the former liberation movement turned governing party, currently has 77 seats in parliament while its closest rival, the Popular Democratic Movement, has five.

Geingob, who served as the country’s first prime minister from 1990 to 2002 and between 2012 and 2015, won his first presidential election with 87% of the vote.

The southern African nation’s economy has contracted in the last two financial years. The Fitch ratings agency, the International Monetary Fund and the country’s central bank all expect a third year of contraction in 2019.

Analysts say Geingob’s administration has failed to decisively deal with corruption.

Namibia uses a majority system for presidential elections, in which the candidate with more than 50% of votes is declared the winner, and a proportional representation system for legislative elections.

Fourteen political parties will take part in this year’s election.

Regional and international observers have largely declared Namibia’s past elections as fair and credible, however the opposition has expressed concern about plans to use electronic voting machines without a paper trail that can be audited in the event of an election dispute.

(Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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