Namibia’s ruling party faces unexpectedly challenging vote

Namibian President Hage Geingob, right, greets supporters at an election rally in Grootfontein, Namibia, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. Namibia votes Wednes...
In this Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, photo, independent candidate Dr. Panduleni Itula electioneers in a street of Gobabis, Namibia. Namibia votes Wednesd...
Supporters attend an election rally by Namibian President Hage Geingob in Grootfontein, Namibia Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. Namibia votes Wednesday in an...
In this Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, photo, supporters of independent candidate Dr. Panduleni Itula cheer on a street in Gobabis, Namibia. Namibia votes ...

Namibian President Hage Geingob, right, greets supporters at an election rally in Grootfontein, Namibia, Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. Namibia votes Wednes...

In this Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, photo, independent candidate Dr. Panduleni Itula electioneers in a street of Gobabis, Namibia. Namibia votes Wednesd...

Supporters attend an election rally by Namibian President Hage Geingob in Grootfontein, Namibia Thursday, Nov. 21, 2019. Namibia votes Wednesday in an...

In this Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019, photo, supporters of independent candidate Dr. Panduleni Itula cheer on a street in Gobabis, Namibia. Namibia votes ...

WINDHOEK, Namibia (AP) — Namibia votes Wednesday in an election that promises to be far removed from the overwhelming victories enjoyed by former liberation movement SWAPO since independence in 1990.

President Hage Geingob faces an unexpected challenge from a dentist who is running as an independent but retains his membership in the ruling party.

Observers say challenger Dr. Panduleni Itula could grab a sizeable share of the youth vote in the southern African country where inequality and unemployment are high.

The ruling SWAPO has been shaken by the weakening economy, which has shed thousands of jobs. Some 46% of youth are unemployed. Meanwhile more than 700,000 people have registered for drought relief as hunger grows.