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Voting opens in Namibia for presidential and national assembly elections

President Hage Geingob, who is vying for a second term in office was the first to cast his ballot at his polling station in Windhoek

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Voting opens in Namibia for presidential and national assembly elections
A Namibian woman exits a voting booth after electronically marking her vote during the Namibian Presidential and parliamentary elections on November 27, 2019 in Windhoek, Namibia. (Photo by GIANLUIGI GUERCIA / AFP)

The 2019 Namibian general election is underway, with voting nearing conclusion.

The country which has been ruled by the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) since independence in 1990 is set to conduct its second electronic voting.

President Hage Geingob, who is vying for a second term in office was the first to cast his ballot at his polling station in the Namibian capital, Windhoek.

Though very confident of victory, President Geingob disclosed he would accept defeat if he eventually loses. In his words,  “If I lost, I would accept also. I’m a democrat”.

“This is not the war, this is not the end of the world. We are just exercising our democratic rights,” he told reporters.

READ: Namibia set for elections despite tough economy

Former SWAPO party member and an independent candidate in the 2019 election, Dr Panduleni Itula also enjoys support from a majority of the youths of the resource-rich country.

Graham Hopwood of the Institute for Public Policy Research, Namibia’s main think-tank says “Itula has acted as a lightning rod for frustrations and for people who are unhappy with the president”.

The ruling party has enjoyed a two-thirds majority in parliament since 1994.

Eleven candidates are vying for the presidency while 15 parties are running for seats in parliament in this year’s election.

The 2019 elections ushered in the country’s first-ever female presidential candidate, Esther Muinjangue, who is vying under the National Unity Democratic Organisation (NUDO), as well as the first independent candidate, Dr Itula.

About 1.4 million Namibians out of the country’s 2.45 million population registered to vote.

Voting commenced at 7 am Namibia time and will close at 9 pm across some 4,200 polling stations.

READ: Namibia arrests former minister and ex-Investec manager on graft charges

The results are expected to be announced on Friday, 29 November.

Watch our #ElectionFever package on #NamibiaDecides2019

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The Future is Here: RwandAir Becomes First African Airline on IATA’s Digital Health Passport

RwandAir, the national carrier of Rwanda, will become the first African Airline to incorporate the IATA Travel Pass program into its operations on a trial basis.

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Following a statement issued by the airline on Tuesday, February 23rd, RwandAir, the national carrier of Rwanda, will become the first African Airline to incorporate the IATA Travel Pass program into its operations on a trial basis.

Developed as an initiative to restore passenger and government confidence towards the reopening of state borders, the IATA Travel Pass is an application that enables the ease of verification of a passenger’s compliance with COVID 19 testing and vaccine travel requirements through a secure digital platform.

RwandAir plans to commence this trial in April for a duration of three weeks, for passengers travelling on its route network from the state capital in Kigali to Nairobi, Kenya.

In response to the announcement, the CEO of RwandAir, Yvonne Manzi Makolo said: “RwandAir is proud to be the first African airline to trial IATA Travel Pass, which could reinforce all the health and safety measures and protocols which we have put in place to restore customer confidence to fly once more. We are incredibly proud to be part of IATA’s Industry Advisory Panel, to ensure we guide the technology development in a way that covers the unique requirements of our passenger profile.”

Makolo also adds that “IATA’s innovative solution simplifies and digitally transmits the information required by countries and governments around the world into our airline systems, in a secure and efficient manner. Travel Pass will make it easy for our customers to resume flying – and just as easy for RwandAir, and airlines around the world, to accept them.”

Commenting on the RwandAir response to the initiative, Alexandre de Juniac, IATA Director General and CEO, said, “RwandAir is showing its industry leadership in Africa by becoming the first airline on the continent to trial IATA Travel Pass.

RwandAir has long used IATA products as the most reliable source of information on entry requirements. This trial will build on that history of working in partnership and takes us a step further in the context of COVID-19. IATA Travel Pass will give governments the confidence to re-open their borders knowing that arriving passengers are in full compliance with any testing or vaccination requirements.”

The application integrates a database registry of testing centres and labs at the departure and arrival points of each route network. It will work in line with a digital passport created on the app by passengers travelling the route which verifies that the vaccination and pre-travel COVID-19 test requirements for the arrival destination are met by each passenger.

In addition, the platform will allow passengers to share their test and vaccination information through a secure channel with participating authorities and airlines around the globe to establish smooth and seamless travel.

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Another School Raided in Zamfara, Northern Nigeria; Schoolgirls Abducted

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Gunmen have attacked a school in Zamfara state and abducted schoolgirls in the process, the state’s Commissioner for Information has disclosed.

The girls were abducted from Government Girls Secondary School, Jangebe in the Talata-Mafara Local Government Area of the state.

The bandits according to local reports attacked the school in the midnight and kidnapped up to 300 girls using Hilux vehicles and motorcycles.

Some of the abductors dressed in uniforms to disguise as security agents but used the opportunity to break into the girls’ hostels to take hundreds of them away.

Local accounts say the bandits operated without resistance for hours in the school with the Police also confirming the incident.

Northern Nigeria is bedevilled with cases of abduction of school pupils with the latest one in Zamfara being the 5th major abduction in a school.

In 2014, more than 250 Chibok schoolgirls were abducted with some of them never returning home. The years that followed also saw the abduction of 110 Dapchi school girls, with 105 of them rescued, four dying in the detention of the terrorists and one, Leah Sharibu held back over her resistance to changing her faith.

In late 2020, schoolboys were abducted from Kankara in Katsina State while just about two weeks ago, students from Kagara in Niger State were abducted by bandits.

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Nigeria Buries Air Force Personnel Killed In Plane Crash

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Thursday, February 25th, was an emotional day for Nigeria as it buried its Air Force personnel who died in an air mishap last week.

The crash occured after the airmen left Abuja on an intelligence mission, enroute Minna as part of plans to rescue the abducted Kagara boys at the time. All seven men on board were killed.

Those who died in the crash were named as: Haruna Gadzama (Pilot); Henry Piyo (Co-pilot); Michael Okpara (Airborne Tactical Observation System Specialist) and Bassey Etim (ATOS Specialist).

Others were Olasunkanmi Olawunmi (ATOS specialist), Ugochukwu Oluka (ATOS specialist) and Adewale Johnson (Onboard Technician).

The deceased were buried on Thursday at the National Military Cemetery, Lugbe in Nigeria’s Federal Capital Territory.

Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi, Ekiti State Governor, Kayode Fayemi and Nigeria’s service chiefs were all present at the burial ceremony as they paid their last respects.

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