Nujoma 'ready' for fourth term

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Namibian President Sam Nujoma

«I don't know why you are always interested in things that are non issues»

Sam Nujoma / The Namibian, 11 April - Namibian President Sam Nujoma says he is ready to run for a fourth term if the Namibian people indicate they want him to stay in office. Nujoma last week declared himself fit to remain in office after his third term as President of Namibia ends in 2005.

He was speaking to Frauke Roeschlau, a Namibian journalist working for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), who he repeatedly implied was a foreigner who "sided with the enemy".

In the interview, which the BBC is yet to be broadcast, Nujoma said when asked if he would run for a fourth term: "Well, if the Namibian people say that we want you to do this I am always at the disposal of the Namibian people. There is a Constitution that guides our procedures that ought to be followed."

Soon after the 1994 election when he received an overwhelming majority, Nujoma told the BBC he was not keen on running for a third five year term in office, and if the Constitution was to be changed a referendum would be held.

The President, however, later changed his tune, declaring himself young enough to give it another shot. The Constitution was amended, amid a lot of debate within Swapo, in parliament and in the media, to extend Nujoma's rule for five years beyond March 2000.

Leaders of the governing party, Swapo, argued that Nujoma's reign between 1990 and 1995 did not fall under the Constitutional limit of two five year terms per individual because he was not elected directly. The amendment reads: "Notwithstanding Article 29(3) [which limits the term of office] the first President of Namibia may hold office as President for three terms."

After answering the question last week Nujoma attacked the interviewer: "But I don't know why you are always interested in things that are non issues. Why do you always want to waste other people's time? We are in the 21st century. We want to move and do our work and provide the services to the people. Yet, you are wasting time."

The President ended the interview on the same confrontational note as he began it when he was first asked about his distaste for gays and lesbians.

Roeschlau said Nujoma became angry during the interview, adding "he raised his voice considerably". At one time the BBC reporter said: "Mr President our Constitution, which is a Namibian Constitution, says all people are equal before the law".

Nujoma retorted: "That is a Constitution that was made by Swapo. We are the ones who fought to liberate this country for you to talk about [the] Constitution. You sided with with the enemy here."

- You whites dominated us here for more than 106 years; first by the Germans, and later by the Boer colonialists, supported by the British and other imperialist countries, Nujoma said.

When Roeschlau asked: "When do you expect our soldiers to be coming back home [from the Democratic Republic of Congo]", Nujoma responded: "you have no soldiers there. It is only African soldiers who are there."

Roeschlau maintains Nujoma was aware she is a Namibian by birth because he greeted her in German, her mother tongue, and even asked about her family ties and where she studied. The BBC reporter lives in Windhoek and has previously worked for the Namibian Broadcasting Corporation.

By Tangeni Amupadhi, The Namibian

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