Namibia votes in polls set to test ruling party’s grip on power

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Windhoek,

Namibians head to the polls on Wednesday for a general election in which resentment stoked by economic hardship and a corruption scandal could challenge the ruling party’s majority.

The sparsely populated nation — where the Namib desert stretches along 1,500 kilometres (930 miles) of Atlantic coastline — has been ruled by the South West Africa People’s Organisation (Swapo) since independence from South Africa in 1990.

President Hage Geingob is vying for re-election after his first term was marred by a recession that stirred anger against Swapo, which continues to bask in the legacy of the liberation struggle.

A Swapo member standing as Namibia’s first independent candidate, ex-dentist Panduleni Itula, 62, has garnered support among jobless young people.

While Geingob is widely expected to win, his result is predicted to drop from the 87 percent of votes he garnered in 2014.

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Didan Odhiambo