It is now official. President Sam Nujoma who himself a third shot at the presidency, will changed the constitution in 1999 to give step down when his current (third) term ends in 2004, State House announced in early January, but in the midst of the hullabaloo over Zimbabwe, this all-important announcement went largely unnoticed internationally.
Locally, opposition parties have hailed the announcement as "respectful of the country's constitution", Hifkepunye Pohamba, secretary general of the ruling parry, Swapo, says it was Nujoma's own decision to retire. "He wants to comply with the constitution."
The announcement ended a period of speculation following Nujoma's own contradictory remarks on BBC World Service about the issue. "If the Namibian people said they wanted me to stand again in 2004, I would always be at their disposal," he told the BBC last April.
But three months later, he was telling the South African SABC radio that he would not run again, stressing that it had never been his intention to do so in the first place.
He told the SABC that he would make way for fresh blood but would remain in the parry leadership and work with the young people.
Now 75, Nujoma, according to the retirement announcement, would still stand for re-election as Swapo president at the parry's congress due this year. If re-elected, he will remain parry president till 2004 when his current five-year term as state president expires.
Pohamba, who is also minister for lands, resettlement and rehabilitation, said Nujoma wanted somebody to take over from him because he was getting old and the pressure was too much.
But Ignatius Shixuameni, the opposition Congress of Democrats MP, disagreed. "It is not a question of him getting old or being tired. It is time for him to go and the constitution says so. We only hope that Swapo will solve the...