WINDHOEK – Republic Party leader Henk Mudge announced yesterday that he has dropped out of this month’s presidential race in order to support independent candidate Dr Panduleni Itula.
However, Mudge’s sudden decision to abandon his bid to run for president has not been well received by the Electoral Commission of Namibia, who yesterday claimed RP missed the 18 October deadline to withdraw its candidate. According to Mudge, his party only signed the nomination forms to contest the National Assembly election and not the presidency.
“We need to remove my face and name from the presidential election ballot paper. That is what the ECN is trying not to do. They want to confuse the people by allowing them to still see my name on the ballot paper, although they heard that I withdrew.
That is what we are going to discuss with the lawyers to see if we can change that,” Mudge remarked. He maintained yesterday that the party representative, Clara Gowases, only signed off the National Assembly election papers and not for the presidential election. Mudge insisted that ECN went on to print the ballot papers with his name and picture, despite not confirming his candidacy in the presidential vote. The RP leader said he already held talks with Itula on his decision on whether his action will not hamper his campaign.
“We have been talking on several occasions, he is happy. I am happy and hopefully we can help him to be successful,” he said. Approached for comment, ECN chief electoral officer Theo Mujoro confirmed that the RP had requested the removal of its presidential candidate. “But we said it is not legally possible.
They should have withdrawn candidates before 18 October, which was the deadline. Besides, EVM ballot papers are already printed,” Mujoro responded.
The Electoral Act of 2014, Section 76 deals with lack of nomination or death of a candidate after nomination. It states that if no candidate is declared duly nominated in terms of Section 75, the commission must immediately terminate the election concerned and all proceedings relating to the nomination of candidates for the election must commence afresh in the same manner as if a vacancy had occurred in the Office of President.
The same section also indicates that if a duly nominated candidate for the election of president dies or becomes incapacitated before elections or while voting is underway, the commission must immediately terminate the election.
However, the Act states no fresh nomination is necessary in the case of a candidate who was duly nominated at the time when the election was so terminated. Equally, it stipulates that if the registration of a political party in respect of which a candidate for the election of president has been declared duly nominated is cancelled and the political party is deregistered in terms of this Act before the poll has commenced or while the poll is taking place, all proceedings relating to the election must continue as if the candidate was nominated as an independent candidate.