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Ambassadors should not participate in local politics – Nehova

Written by on May 8, 2024

Former National Council chairperson Sandy Nehova says ambassadors and heads of missions should adhere to international law and stay in their lane.

High commissioners and other representatives of foreign countries in Namibia are not allowed to participate directly or indirectly in elections in Namibia, he says.

A debate on the matter was unleashed after German ambassador Thorsten Hutter hosted a lunch in honour of Independent Patriots for Change (IPC) leader Panduleni Itula, along with other European Union (EU) ambassadors.

Minister of international relations and cooperation Peya Mushelenga and Swapo vice president Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah subsequently issued EU ambassadors a stern warning against interfering in Namibia’s affairs.

Mushelenga has summoned European ambassadors and rapped them on the fingers over the meeting.

“This year, 2024, is the year of presidential and National Assembly elections in Namibia, and the campaign for such elections has already started.

“Foreigners, including EU ambassadors and others, are not party to this campaign,” Nehova says.

He says the involved EU ambassadors have breached international conventions and protocols, as well the Constitution.

“I must stress, only Namibians are allowed to participate in the election campaign to elect the president and members of the National Assembly. All foreigners should know this,” he says.

The EU ambassadors have described the engagement in contention as informal.

“The European Union heads of mission had an informal lunch to discuss the situation in Namibia, including, among others, his [Itula’s] election campaign.

“This is part of our general engagement with relevant actors in Namibia, as is normal for all diplomatic missions to perform. This is confirmed by the minister in his demarche,” a statement released by the ambassadors reads.

They say they did not discuss matters that fall within the purview of the government.

“Nor did we comment on or prejudge the outcome of any election,” the statement reads.

International relations expert and public policy analyst Marius Kudumo believes Swapo and the government has overreacted to the meeting.

“In my view this is an overreaction, and it would not have been the same if it were not an election year,” he says.

“Therefore, they meet with governments, political parties and non-state actors to carry out their representation and reporting functions if they are serious and effective representatives of sending states,” Kudumo says.

IPC spokesperson Immanuel Nashinge says the party has no comment on the matter.

The post Ambassadors should not participate in local politics – Nehova appeared first on The Namibian.

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