New Era (Windhoek)

27 September 2010

Namibia: Erongo Sets Police Poll Deployment Dates

Walvis Bay — Police in the Erongo Region have set November 25 as the date for the deployment of members of the force to various polling stations for the upcoming nationwide regional and local authority elections.

The much-anticipated elections are slated for November 26 and 27 and police in Erongo, and across the country, have been busy with preparations in recent weeks to ensure that peace prevails during the polls.

"In the meantime, we have already started meetings at schools, churches and other public places, teaching and urging the public to be tolerant towards each other during elections," Erongo Police's Regional Commander, Deputy Commissioner Festus Shilongo, told New Era on Friday.

Violent clashes erupted between supporters of mainly the ruling party Swapo, and the Rally for Democracy and Progress (RDP) at Walvis Bay a few days before the Presidential and National Assembly elections held last November.

In an attempt to avoid similar incidents this year, police in Erongo seem to have taken a proactive approach as elections draw closer.

"We are busy with preliminary preparations. We are currently distributing leaflets against voters' violence," Shilongo said.

The regional commander said so far there have been no reports of any election violence in the region, but warned against complacency within the force, as election campaigns get underway.

"Logistically, we are prepared and do not need further help from the head office in Windhoek. We have enough sleeping bags for our members and we have enough manpower," he said.

In a run up to elections last year, police across the country had to deal with violent behaviours of supporters of different political parties.

The worst incident happened in Outapi in the Omusati Region when supporters of the RDP, which held a star rally at the town, clashed with those of Swapo.

Police at Outapi had to request reinforcement from Ruacana when the situation almost got out of hand.

Apart from Walvis Bay and Outapi, similar incidences were reported in Windhoek and Omuthiya, among other towns.

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