Nujoma hands over mantle of leadership to Pohamba

THE founding President of Namibia, Sam Nujoma, after 15 years in office yesterday handed over power to his successor, Hifikepunye Pohamba, before a huge, cheering crowd.

The new president, Pohamba, 69, has been a close ally of Nujoma for 40 years.
About 20,000 people filled an open-air sport stadium in the capital, Windhoek, in spite of heavy rain to witness the swearing-in of the new president.

Most Namibians regard Nujoma, who fought for independence as a guerrilla leader, as the father of their nation.
"I accept this new duty as second president of Namibia with great humility," Pohamba said in his inauguration speech.
"We must uphold the legacy of the founding president and continue with peace, stability and prosperity."

He was elected by Namibians in polls last November with his South West Africa People's Organisation (SWAPO) party also sweeping to victory in parliamentary elections.
But the results were called into doubt this month when opposition groups launched a high court bid to challenge the results.
Despite a recount marred by some spoiled ballot boxes, Pohamba and SWAPO were again declared victorious.

Nujoma hands over a country which is in better shape than many of its neighbours with high literacy and with most people having access to running water and electricity, analysts said.
But land reform remains a potentially explosive issue in the country.
Nujoma has in the past courted controversy by praising the policies of Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, who has seized thousands of white-owned farms.
Much of Namibia's best farmland is owned by some 3,800 white farmers.

But under Nujoma, Namibia kept to a policy of willing-buyer, willing-seller.
His successor, Pohamba, has said that land reform is moving too slowly, and warned that popular anger could lead to revolution.

Nujoma remains as head of his party, SWAPO.