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Namibia mourns as Presi Geingob dies of cancer

Namibia’s President Hage Geingob, 82, died in hospital early on Sunday, the presidency said, weeks after he was diagnosed with cancer.

 

Geingob had been in charge of the thinly populated and mostly arid southern African country since 2015, the year he became its third president since independence from South Africa in 1990.

 

The vice-president, Nangolo Mbumba, announced the death of Geingob in a statement, saying he was surrounded by his wife, Monica Geingos, and his children. “The Namibian nation has lost a distinguished servant of the people, a liberation struggle icon, the chief architect of our constitution and the pillar of the Namibian house,” Mbumba said.

 

Geingob, who was born in a village in northern Namibia in 1941, took up activism against South Africa’s apartheid regime, which at the time ruled over Namibia, from his early schooling years before being driven into exile. He spent almost three decades in Botswana and the US, where he represented the local liberation movement, Swapo, at the UN and across the Americas.

 

When Swapo won the first elections in 1990, Geingob was appointed prime minister – a position he held for 12 years before returning to it again in 2012. In 2014, as the party comfortably won yet another vote, riding on the legacy of its role in the liberation struggle, Geingob became president.

 

Geingob revealed his cancer diagnosis to the public last month, saying he had undergone a biopsy after a routine medical check-up in January. He subsequently travelled to the US for treatment, but returned home a few days later. He had previously survived prostate cancer in 2014 and underwent an aortic operation in 2023.

 

Geingob died while receiving treatment at Lady Pohamba hospital in Windhoek, the capital. His medical team did its best to help him, but he did not survive, Mbumba said.

 

Namibia is due to hold presidential and parliamentary elections in November. The governing Swapo party, which has been in power since independence, has chosen the deputy prime minister, Nandi-Ndaitwah, as its presidential candidate. She is also the country’s foreign minister and, if elected, will become Namibia’s first female president.

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